• FT

    South Africa

    0

    Iraq

    0

  • FT

    New Zealand

    0

    Spain

    5

FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP

Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburgo

Referee: Larrionda, Jorge

* Local time based on your geographic location.

0 - 0

FT

South Africa 0-0 Iraq: Hosts held by Asian champs

South Africa and Iraq failed to find the back of the net, and produced a poor start to the Confederations Cup in Johannesburg.

• Pienaar: Occasion got to us

The hosts showed plenty of attacking intent throughout the game, but were let down by poor execution, with the best chance of the game, a header by Kagisho Dikgacoi, cleared off the line by one of his own players.

A brief and entertaining opening ceremony was followed by the formalities of speeches from FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma, who officially opened the tournament.

The teams were then greeted with the sound of vuvuzelas ringing all around the Ellis Park Stadium, but the hosts failed to find the early goal that the expectant crowd was anticipating.

In the opening five minutes Thembinkosi Fanteni was lucky to escape with just a yellow card after inexplicably diving in on Karrar Jasim.

The Iraqi left winger, though, was back on his feet shortly after and had his side's first shot on target, which was comfortably held by Itumeleng Khune in the home goal.

South Africa responded in the 11th minute when Fareed Majeed was caught in possession by Bernard Parker, but the striker's effort from the edge of the area was a simple catch for Mohammed Kassid.

Three minutes later the ball was splendidly switched to Siboniso Gaxa on the right and he in turn picked out MacBeth Sibaya, whose angled shot almost caught out Kassid, but for the Iraqi goalkeeper's fingertips.

The game slowed down thereafter, with the hosts controlling the bulk of play without creating that many openings.

Iraq too began to settle down with their highly-rated midfielder Nashat Akram striking a free-kick from a decent 30-yard position straight into the wall.

At the other end, Parker managed to skip away from two defenders just outside the box but, under pressure from Mahdi Kareem, sent a tame shot narrowly wide as the sides went into the break goalless.

Fanteni was again involved at the start of the second half, bursting into the left side of the penalty area, before laying the ball on for Parker to strike a powerful angled effort from close range straight at Kassid.

The Maccabi Haifa striker then had another fine chance when he glanced his header from a Modise corner narrowly over the bar as the home side hunted desperately for a goal.

Both coaches also tried to change things with Iraq coach Bora Milutinovic throwing on Hawar Mulla Mohammed and Alaa Abdul Zahra, while Joel Santana introduced Katlego Mashego.

And the Orlando Pirates frontman almost made an instant impact after winning a bouncing ball in the area and found himself one-on-one, only to see his shot somehow kept out by a brave Kassid, who spread his body in a bid to avert the danger.

Parker followed that up with another good chance, when he spun in the box and fired a rising shot that was well dealt with by the Iraqi custodian.

But the Red Star Belgrade striker was then responsible for helping out the visitors when Kagisho Dikgacoi's header looked certain to break deadlock, only for the ball to hit Parker on his body and somehow stay out.

It proved the final chance for the home side as both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils in Group A.

  • Pienaar: Occasion got to us

    Steven Pienaar believes that the pressure of the opening game may have affected South Africa after they were held to a goalless draw against Iraq in the Confederations Cup.

    "We are definitely disappointed because we expected a lot from this game," the Everton midfielder said afterwards. "If you can get three points in the opening game, it normally takes a lot of pressure off a team.

    "Now we have our backs against the wall. But we just have to stay focused and there's still two games. So we'll have to give everything then."

    The South Africans had only one real opportunity in the opening 45 minutes, but were blunted by Iraq goalkeeper Mohammed Kassid, who finger-tipped away a cross-goal shot from MacBeth Sibaya.

    In the second period, the best chance came via a header by Kagisho Dikgacoi, which was cleared off the line by one of his own players, Bernard Parker.

    Pienaar continued: "In the first half, we were a bit poor and gave the ball away easily. I think Iraq were very well organised and it was difficult for the guys to break them down.

    "We knew the first game was going to be difficult, everyone was expecting a win, so we're just disappointed now. But I'm glad it's over now and we can look forward to the next game, hopefully a bit more relaxed."

    Pienaar, who only came on for the final five minutes after starting on the bench, also brushed aside any injury worries, adding: "I was ill the whole week, that's why I started on the bench. I feel much better now and things should be okay."

    Iraq coach Bora Milutinovic was pleased with the way his side performed, saying that he was going to enjoy the moment rather than concentrate on their next group opponents Spain.

    He said: "I'm very happy because we got one point. Now we are alive and we have more than two days to prepare for the game against Spain.

    "We did everything I wanted them to do and that has pleased me. I thought the team was good, there was very good discipline.

    "I am not yet sure what the future holds, whether we can qualify or not still remains to be seen. We have to respect everybody, but what I am sure is that we're going to enjoy the next two days. We have to enjoy this moment first."

  • Scoring Summary

    • South Africa
    • Iraq
     
     

    Match Stats

    • South Africa
    • Iraq
    7(5) Shots (on goal) 1(1)
    9 Fouls 4
    1 Corner kicks 3
    0 Offsides 0
    0% Time of Possession 0%
    2 Yellow Cards 1
    0 Red Cards 0
    1 Saves 5

    Teams

    • South Africa
    • Iraq
    Substitutes
    Substitutions
    Yellow Cards
    Nashat Akram (73')