FIFA World Cup

Australia vs. South Africa: Score, Report and Post-Match Reaction

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 26:  Socceroos captain Tim Cahill celebrates scoring a goal during the International Friendly match between the Australian Socceroos and South Africa at ANZ Stadium on May 26, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Alex LivieFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2014

Australia’s final game on home soil before they jet off to South America for the World Cup ended in a 1-1 draw with South Africa.

The Socceroos looked bright and sharp for the most part, and also demonstrated fighting spirit as they had to come back from a goal behind to earn a draw.

There were positives to take from the game, but Australia will have to step up a level or two to progress from an extremely tough group in Brazil, which sees them pitted alongside reigning champions Spain, Netherlands—who were beaten finalists in South Africa—and Chile.

Australia made an extremely bright start and it took a fine save from Senzo Meyiwa to keep out Tommy Oar’s deflected strike.

From the resulting corner, Mathew Leckie rose high to head on goal but Meyiwa was again the equal of the effort.

Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

A raft of withdrawals from the South Africa squad led to fears that they would not pose a sufficient test for Australia, but Bafana Bafana sprung a surprise on 13 minutes.

With their first attack of the match, Ayanda Patosi curled home with his right foot after Australia had failed to clear their lines in the box.

The Australia response was swift and clinical. A deep cross tempted Meyiwa off his line, but he was comprehensively beaten to the ball by Tim Cahill, who scored yet another goal with his head.

Would anyone be surprised if Tim Cahill took a penalty by placing the ball on the spot, running up and diving at it with his head? #AUSvRSA

— Sam Pang (@MrSamPang) May 26, 2014

The Socceroos continued to press, with Mark Milligan seeing a shot saved by Meyiwa and Oar lashing an effort over the bar.

Patosi came close to stunning Australia for a second time moments after the interval when letting fly from long range, but the effort flew just wide.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 26: Tim Cahill of the Socceroos kicks for goal during the International Friendly match between the Australian Socceroos and South Africa at ANZ Stadium on May 26, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The pitch at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney left plenty to be desired, but both teams were keen to get the ball down and play.

Leckie had the look of a player keen to make an impression on his manager, and he drove forward with purpose on 57 minutes but dragged his shot wide of target.

Postecoglou made changes as the game progressed, giving him the chance to assess his options, while the one major concern was the sight of Ivan Franjic limping off with 55 minutes on the clock.

Second-half substitute Oliver Bozanic went close to grabbing a winner in injury time, but his header drifted inches wide with Meyiwa beaten.

The Australia coach will now trim his squad to 27, before naming his final 23 for the World Cup on June 2.

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