Contributed by: Troy Thompson
This match was eagerly anticipated by International Cup watchers. Could the improving Lions take it up to the bigger bodied and more experienced Revolution? The weather while still quite windy across the ground and favouring the southern end had improved since the earlier session with the sun now shining and the ground dried by the constant wind.
The Lions set the tone with the first clearance. Steven Malinga snapped out of the pack to open the scoring with a point. Simphiwe Mbhalo added another from a long kick that drifted away and Bayanda Sobetwa snapped one more after roving a loose ball. The US team started to look a little more settled and laying some strong tackles. But the Lions put up the first goal of the day and the only one for the quarter when Malinga marked a kick in from an out of bounds free kick, went back and goalled. Donnie Lucero cleared from the centre of the ground to Justin Valley for the US, but the ball spilled and though he gathered was tackled as he kicked with the ball skewing left for a behind.
South Africa added another point after Sobweta's long bomb came off hands for a minor score. Further points were added for the Lions by Mtutuzeli Hlomela, Toy Prinsloo and Richard Prinsloo. The Lions 1.8 to the US 0.1 with a wind advantage of a couple of goals looked like a poor return but it was a lead that they were glad to have.
George Lakomy kicked an early point for the US as his scrappy kick rolled wide of the big sticks. Valley marked 30 metres out but failed to make the distance and the ball came off hands for a behind. Both sides piled on the pressure and there were continual turnovers mostly within close range of the centre square. It was the South Africans who seemed to be pouncing on the loose ball first and getting off quick hands. Malinga again got free with the ball but this time hit the padding on the goal post for a behind from 25m out. The ball remained on the Lions' half forward line with plenty of scrambling pack footy. The US moved forward again and Lucero was taken down 35 metres out by Lwazi Jawe, his kick however went wide for a minor score. Back at the nothern end Khaya Sikiti kicked long to Sobetwa who went back and goaled from 15 metres out. The US quickly moved the ball forward out of the centre in response and Paul Duncan swooped on a loose bouncing ball and goaled from close range. South Africa received a number of free kicks going forward and eventually managed to drive the ball to the 40 metre arc where Donnie Lucero appeared to have got first hands on the ball in defence but the mark was paid to Malinga who flew spectacularly over him. The kick fell short as the siren sounded and Lucero spoke at length to the umpire on the way to the rooms for the half time break, his team 13 points adrift.
South Africa came out with the breeze in the third quarter and opened with a quick goal to Godfrey Molohlanyi who received a quick pass from Benji Motuba. The US controlled possesion next but Julian Horn cleared twice in as many minutes off the South African halfback line. The South African captain Mtutu kicked long to Toy Prinsloo who went back and goaled from 30 metres out. The US responded quickly with their second goal for the match through Patrick Miller. The US forward again through Jay Levesque but his kick came off hands for a behind. Two more wayward kicks resulted in minor scores as the US tried desperately to bridge the gap. However their luck was about to change as the South African kick in found Paul Duncan who quickly centred to Rob Lutostanski who made no mistake in kicking for goal. The lead had been pegged back slightly with the Lions going into the last just 10 points up.
The breeze had not dropped off so much as swung around so that it was now more across than down the ground. The ball was quickly into the Lions forward line. A US free kick was smothered and Toy Prinsloo picked up the loose ball and and goaled through tight traffic from 15 metres out. The ball flowed from half back to half back line before a long ball to the US forward line was cleverly soccered off the boundary line to Paul Duncan who ran in and goaled from close range as the Lions defender closed on him. The Lions cleared from the center again, Toy Prinsloo close to goal stepped around three defenders and snapped a high kick that carried over the line for a goal. Toy was again part of the next two goals with assists to hand off to Malinga first then Sobetwa for goals that put the nails in the Revolutions International Cup coffin. The US scored a late consolation goal through Luke Nemeth who scored from a free kick 25 metres out. The siren sounded and it was the Lions in an upset by 22 points. The celebration was large and must be taken in the context of the improvement that the South Africans have made in the last three years.
The US did look like they might come home strong and take the win at three quarter time, but the South African were able to back themselves and go on with it. It was noticable that the physical clashes that were expected by most to come from the US did not really eventuate, and the the South Africans were continually first to the ball and able to avoid those clashes with such quick ball movement. South Africa will now play PNG in Wednesday's semifinal and the US will take on Nauru.
Goal Kickers: P. Duncan 2, L. Nemeth, P. Miller, D. Jones
Best Players: C. Candelaria, A. Vanica, K. Nelson, A. Lindsey, D. Lucero, B. Blankenship
Goal Kickers: T. Prinsloo 3, G. Molohlanyi 2, S. Malinga, B. Motuba, B. Sobetwa
Best Players: B. Sobetwa, T. Mogapi, R. Prinsloo, K. Garenamotse, L. Jawe, B. Mitchell
World Footy News