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Australia struggle in draw with South Africa

26 May 2014, 15:05

Sydney - Australia's Socceroos failed to raise their World Cup hopes with a struggling 1-1 draw against South Africa in a warm-up match for Brazil in Sydney on Monday.

Both goals were scored one minute apart early in the opening half and chances became fewer as the match petered out to a stalemate before 50,000 fans at the Olympic stadium.

Tim Cahill, leading his country for the first time in his 69th international, equalised for the Socceroos in the 14th minute after Ayanda Patosi opened the scoring a minute earlier.

While Australia did not play first-choice squad members, Mile Jedinak, Mark Bresciano and Matthew Spiranovic, there wasn't much to enthuse about the home effort before they leave for Brazil on Wednesday.

The inexperienced Australians, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, face a daunting task in Brazil against Spain, the Netherlands and Chile in Group B, with few giving them much hope of an upset.

It is a Socceroos side in transition following the dropping of former captain and defender Lucas Neill and the recent international retirements of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, forward Harry Kewell and midfielders Brett Emerton and Brett Holman.

"Bafana Bafana", who shocked the reigning world champions Spain 1-0 in Soweto last November, brought over a much-depleted squad with half the original 18-strong squad pulling out with injuries, forcing coach Gordon Igesund into a late scramble for replacements.

Australia settled well from the kickoff and dominated possession with FC Utrecht winger Tommy Oar prominent, forcing Ronwen Williams into a couple of saves.

But South Africa scored first when Bournemouth's Tokelo Rantie broke clear on the left and laid off for Belgian-based Patosi to beat Mat Ryan with an angled volley to the far post in the 13th minute.

The Socceroos hit back a minute later when Oar's cross was headed firmly by Cahill past the goalkeeper.

Kaizer Chiefs defender Eric Mathoho attempted to clear but videos showed the ball crossed the line and Cahill was credited with his 33rd international goal.

South Africa gave the home defence some problems late in the half and Reneilwe Letsholonyane inexplicably laid off the ball rather shoot for goal.

The Australian midfield was leaving space with the defence lying deep giving South Africa more opportunities to run the ball.

Ajax playmaker Thulani Serero was influential for South Africa and James Holland received a yellow card for hacking him down midway through the opening half.

Right-back Ivan Franjic took a knock above his right knee and was replaced by the experienced Luke Wilkshire early in the second half.

Japan-based striker Josh Kennedy was brought on for the last six minutes in a bid to get a late winner but it failed to materialise although Oliver Bozanic went close with a stoppage-time header.

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