Senegal were left to rue missed chances as they were caught up in the closing minutes by a battling Tunisian side. Final score: 2-2. Elrio van Heerden scored two minutes from full-time to salvage a 1-1 draw for South Africa against Angola.
It was a case of stalemate all round in Tamale for Wednesday's African Nations Cup Group D games, with a wonder strike by Elrio Van Heerden saving South Africa against Angola and a late Tunisia fight back earning them a point against Senegal.
Angola were in the driving seat against the 2010 World Cup hosts after a thumping header from Mateus 'Manucho' Goncalves, the teenager who after the competition heads to Old Trafford to take up his new contract with Manchester United.
As Angola looked to be holding on Manucho cleared the ball off the line when South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena thought he had equalised but it was Van Heerden who saved the day for Carlos Alberto Parreira's men.
The substitute from Belgian outfit Club Bruges latched on to a pass from Teko Modise, drifted past a defender and fired an unstoppable shot over goalkeeper Luis 'Lama' Joao to earn the 1-1 draw.
"We just had too keep going, had to create chances. We worked very hard, we'll be better in our next game against Tunisia," South Africa's goal hero said.
For Parreira Bafana Bafana (The Boys) deserved more than a point given their endeavour.
"I knew we were capable of getting a good result but this one doesn't do justice to the shape of the match," he said. "We had a greater share of the play than Angola but we weren't able to score.
"If we want to qualify we'll have to now win one of our remaining two games. Any one of the four teams in the group can still qualify."
In the first act of the Tamale double header, Tunisia snatched a late goal to share the spoils 2-2 with Senegal.
The 2004 champions punished Senegal for squandering a multitude of chances when Majdi Traoui unleashed a 'rocket' that flew past motionless goalkeeper Tony Sylva seven minutes from full-time.
Senegal's Polish coach, Henri Kasperczak, rued his side's missed opportunities.
He said: "Tunisia had a lot of success with that 30m shot. We should have killed off the game, but the opening match is never easy.
"Both teams played well tactically. In the first half we were surprised by the Tunisians, and we were chasing the lead. Overall the result is fair, but we did create so many chances."
Kasperczak added: "I'm a little disappointed because we lost three points tonight, but after going in front we let the game escape from us when we had it safely in our grasp.
"We conceded a stupid goal on a one-two and unfortunately we missed too many chances, that's what makes the difference between the top teams, but you saw a decent Senegal tonight."
This meeting came with a fair amount of history attached to it. Senegal 'did it' for Roger Lemerre's tenure as France manager with that stunning upset over the then reigning champions at the 2002 World Cup.
And when the pair last met, at the 2004 African Nations Cup, Senegal seethed after claiming host status had played a part when they fell 1-0 to Lemerre's Tunisia in an ill-tempered quarter-final.
Four years on and Issam Jemaa gave the north Africans an early lead they held until first-half stoppage time when Bayal Sall equalised and a fierce Senegalese onslaught paid dividends when Diomansy Kamara put them ahead on 66 minutes.
But the 'Teranga Lions' were punished for a host of missed chances when Traoui produced the equaliser seven minutes from time.
All to play for then in Group D with the next instalment coming on Sunday when South Africa take on Tunisia and Angola up against Senegal.
Thursday's action at the 2008 African Nations Cup returns to Accra with the second round of Group A games featuring hosts Ghana against Namibia and Morroco against Guinea.
Date created : 2008-01-23