RUSTENBURG, South Africa - Striker Bernard Parker made amends for the blunder which cost South Africa victory in the opening match of the Confederations Cup by scoring twice on Wednesday in a 2-0 win over New Zealand. Parker struck in the 21st and 52nd minutes, both after crosses from left back Tsepo Masilela, to leave the hosts with a sporting chance of reaching the semi-finals and condemning the visitors to elimination before their final game.
There can have been no more relieved man in the Royal Bafokeng Stadium than Parker when he scored South Africa's first goal of the tournament before nearly 37,000 raucous fans.
The striker had unwittingly prevented his team's victory in the opening match against Iraq on Sunday when a shot from his own team mate struck him in the back of the legs as it was about to cross the line for a goal.
Parker showed no sign that the mishap had rocked his confidence when he took Masilela's cross and swept it past New Zealand keeper Glen Moss with his left foot.
His second goal early in the second half owed a little to luck as another Masilela cross struck his left thigh, deflecting the ball just inside Moss's left-hand post.
Parker could have completed his hat-trick 10 minutes later with a clever glancing header but Moss saved well.
South Africa dominated the game against a weak New Zealand side and squandered a host of chances to build on their lead.
They also fell far too readily into the away team's defensive trap, having a goal in each half disallowed for offside.
Those misses could prove costly to their chances of reaching the semi-final from Group A. With one match to go Spain have qualified on six points and the hosts lie second with four. Iraq have one and New Zealand none.
South Africa need to draw with Spain in Bloemfontein on Saturday to be sure of going through. But, if they lose, Iraq could beat them on goal difference with a victory over the Oceania champions.
They can take comfort from a much more convincing performance than they showed in the opening game and can also reflect that they have yet to concede a goal in the tournament and have rarely looked like doing so.comments