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April 10, 2010

Great entertainment at Cape Town International Challenge, Cape Town Stadium

cape town stadium football

South African under-20 midfielder Jabulani Ncubeni takes on the Nigerian defence. Photos by Travis Robertson

cape town stadium football

The action hots up in the Nigerian goal area

A near-capacity crowd at Cape Town Stadium got full value for their tickets as they watched the future soccer stars of South Africa and Nigeria compete in the Cape Town International at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

Nigeria won the exciting match 3-1. On Thursday, the South African juniors, known as “Amajita”, beat Brazil’s Under-20 team 3-2 at Newlands Stadium, but couldn’t repeat the heroics, despite showing plenty of heart.

The buzz of vuvuzelas kept energy levels high around the magnificent stadium, which was engulfed by its bright lights for the first time during a sporting fixture.

Amajita took the lead in the 43rd minute, when Maritzburg United midfielder, 17-year-old Jabulani Ncubeni, tapped the ball passed the Nigerian goalkeeper, Muhammed Bala, with his left foot.

Nigeria equalised soon after half-time though, when Envoh Terry took advantage of an injury to South African goalkeeper Tawfeeq Salie, who could only watch from the ground as the ball was knocked into the net.

Nigeria netted a second in the 76th minute, after an amazing cross that was converted by substitute Otubanjo Yusuf. The large number of Nigerians in the crowd made their presence felt, cheering loudly and breaking into song.

Yusuf scored again in the 89th minute to put the result beyond question.

Nigeria began the match strongly, nearly scoring in the first five minutes, prevented only by the long arm of Salie, who parried a shot over the crossbar. Salie, who plays for Ajax Cape Town, provided an imposing presence in front of the home team’s goal before his injury.

A few minutes later, Amajita squandered another possible scoring opportunity when Bala spilled the ball at the other end.

The teams were evenly matched during the first half-hour, both playing some smart soccer in the midfield, although both guilty of some aimless shots at goal.

Amajita’s captain, defender Choppa Mboweni, was organised and composed, efficiently arranging the positioning of his teammates. Tall and well built, he has much potential.

Bafana Bafana coach, Carlos Parreira, said after the match that three or four of the South African players had really impressed him. “They could be playing for Bafana Bafana very soon,” he said.

The match provided Cape Town soccer fans an opportunity to identify future Bafana Bafana stars and to enjoy the last match at Cape Town Stadium before the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.

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