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SOUTH AFRICA 1 : 0 SLOVENIA
South Africa bolstered their hopes of moving into the second round of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan with a narrow victory over now eliminated Slovenia.
Siyabonga Nomvethe scored the only goal of the match, though South Africa had the lion's share of the chances. Slovenia, without their star playmaker Zlatko Zahovic who was sent home this week, struggled to create much danger. Bafana Bafana now take on Spain hoping to take point and guarantee their place in the second round. Slovenia play Paraguay in a match that means nothing to them besides pride.
South Africa opened the scoring quickly but in less-than-beautiful fashion when Quinton Fortune served a free kick from the left. The cross curled in for Siyabonga Nomvethe, who failed to make contact with his head, but the ball hit off his right thigh and deflected into the net (1:0, 4).
South Africa looked the more dangerous side through most of the first half-hour, though they did little to test Slovenia goalkeeper Marko Simeunovic. Slovenia, for their part, threatened more in the final quarter-hour of the half, nearly getting the equaliser on a 19-metre shot from Milenko Acimovic that went just wide of the far post (33).
South Africa nearly had their second goal when Sibusiso Zuma beat a defender on the right side and cut the ball back from the by-line to Benedict McCarthy, who had an open goal in front of him but could not get his shot off before the defence closed in on him (41).
The teams went into the interval with South Africa content with their one-goal lead. Slovenia, meanwhile, showed little sense of urgency despite the deficit and the possibility of elimination 45 minutes away.
South Africa threatened early in the second half, with McCarthy firing a powerful shot on goal from 20 metres that Simeunovic pushed wide for a corner (50).
Things off the pitch were also not going in Slovenias favour, as coach Srecko Katanec was expelled from the touch line and spent the rest of the game in the stands.
South Africa continued to look to Fortune to create from the left wing and on set pieces, and the Manchester United man almost set up a second goal when he served a wonderful cross to the near post for McCarthy, whose header hit the stanchion and went out for a goal kick (65). McCarthy missed another golden chance seconds later when he received the ball near the penalty spot but struck his shot directly at Simeunovic (65).
Slovenia finally showed some life when Nastja Ceh headed a right-wing cross on goal, but South Africa goalkeeper Andre Arendse was able to slap it away for a corner (71). Slovenia gave the Africans a scare when Amir Karic pounced on a bad give-away in the South African end and fired a powerful shot that went just over the bar (81).
Simeunovic did well to keep South Africa from sealing the win when he came off his line and saved a shot from Delron Buckley, who had gone free on goal (86). But Simeunovics efforts alone would not be enough, and South Africa walked off the pitch with all three points and their first-ever victory in a FIFA World Cup finals.