South Africa eliminate Slovenia with first win

South Africa score 1-0 victory over Slovenia in the World Cup.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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Daegu, South Korea:

South Africa won at the World Cup for the first time Saturday, ousting a struggling Slovenian lineup that was missing its biggest star and for the second half a coach in the dugout. Siyabonga Nomvethe scored in the 4th minute and the South Africans held the 1-0 margin to close in on a berth in the second round. Slovenia, making its first trip to the World Cup, lacked the enterprising spark of Zlatko Zahovic in midfield. Renowned for rallying from behind to force ties, "Bafana, Bafana" the "boys" put the emphasis on attack by including Nomvethe in the starting 11 and, just for a change, led throughout. In second place behind undefeated Spain in Group B, the South Africans need only a point against the Spanish on Wednesday to guarantee a place in the second round. "I'm very proud of them. They knew it was time to win and they did it," coach Jomo Sono said. "I think the pressure will be off for the Spanish game. We wanted to get the three points badly today." Nomvethe turned the ball over the line with his thigh, latching onto Quinton Fortune's curling free kick from the left. The 24-year-old Udinese forward wasn't involved when South Africa gained a last-minute 2-2 tie with Paraguay on Fortune's penalty kick last Sunday, but made the most of his chances on debut. "I didn't even know the ball was coming it was too quick," Nomvethe said of his goal. Nomvethe threatened each time he charged into the square from the left or the right side and worked well in tandem with Sibusiso Zuma. Sono didn't mask his delight at the goal, thrusting his arms skyward in triumph and pumping his fists as he premiered the "Jomo" dance for a World Cup audience. Slovenian coach Sricko Katanec didn't have much to celebrate as his World Cup campaign lurched from bad to worse following a spat with Zahovic that resulted in the star midfielder being sent home. Early in the second half, after becoming increasingly frustrated as his lineup labored against the South Africans, Katanec was ejected from the dugouts by a sideline official. Katanec, who vowed to quit as coach after the World Cup following his clash with Zahovic, said his team had shown courage under immense pressure. He said Slovenia's only remaining objective here was to win its last game against Paraguay to take points home from its first trip to the World Cup finals. Paraguay has one point from its tie with South Africa. "I'm proud of my team. I think today they played a good game," he said. "South Africa scored after one free kick which was very disappointing. We showed we were competitive, which we also did in the game against Spain, when we were still in it until five minutes before the end." Somo, who took over after South Africa's disappointing run at the 2001 African Cup of Nations, said Slovenia packed its forward line in the second half as it pushed for the equalizer and threw his African side off balance. "It wasn't a nice game, but then we did not come here to play a nice game, we came here to win," he said. Slovenia's only first-half chance fell to Milenko Acimovic in the 33rd minute when the midfielder took a pass from Doni Novak, but could only lash his shot wide of the left post from the edge of the area. South Africa continued to dominate in the second half. Benni McCarthy slipped away from his marker in the 50th minute and rifled a low drive on goal that forced a diving save by Slovenia 'keeper Marko Simeunovic. He headed Fortune's cross into the woodwork in the 64th minute and missed another shot before he was stretchered off after crashing into Simeunovic. Slovenia had two chances to level. Nastja Ceh powered a header on goal after a cross from Milan Osterc in the 72nd, and Amir Karic curled a 30-yard shot just over in the final minutes. Milenka Acimovic, who has signed with Tottenham Hotspur, was called into Slovenia's lineup to replace Zahovic. He had limited opportunities until he was replaced by Nestja Ceh on the hour. Acimovic said the Slovenians had put the Zahovic incident behind them and were just unlucky against South Africa. Lineups:South Africa: 16-Andre Arendse; 2-Cyril Nzama, 19-Lucas Radebe (captain), 3-Bradley Carnell, 4-Aaron Mokoena; 6-MacBeth Sibaya, 7-Quinton Fortune (11-Jabu Pule, 84), 12-Teboho Mokoena, 15-Sibusiso Zuma; 14-Sayabonga Nomvethe (18-Delron Buckley, 71), 17-Benidict McCarthy (23-George Koumantarakis, 80). Slovenia: 1-Marko Simeunovic; 3-Zeljko Milinovic, 4-Muamer Vugdalic, 6-Aleksander Knavs (23-Spasoje Bulajic, 60); 7-Doni Novak, 8-Ales Ceh (captain), 11-Miran Pavlin, 18-Milenko Acimovic (20-Nastja Ceh, 60), 19-Amir Karic; 21-Sebastjan Cimirotic (9-Milan Osterc, 41), 13-Mladen Rudonja. Referee: Angel Sanchez, Argentina.