One mistake followed by one unstoppable free kick from the boot of Dani Alves in the 88th minute.
That, in the end, was what decided the Confederations Cup semi-final match between Brazil (ranked 5th in the world by FIFA) and South Africa (ranked 72nd) earlier this evening, Brazil winning 1-0.
South Africa put in a very creditable performance against Brazil, the best football team in the world in many people's eyes, regardless of the official rankings. The Brazilians never found their natural rhythm--the South Africans didn't let them. In particular, Kaka, the supremely gifted Brazilian playmaker with the elegant, balletic, almost languid style, had neither the space nor the time to display his prodigious gifts. Instead, it was the South African midfielders that dominated the game--Steven Pienaar ultimately collecting the Man of the Match award. His colleagues in the middle of the park, Teko Modise and Siphiwe Tshabalala, were full of guile and cunning. Unfortunately, South Africa was unable to convert their impressive possession and passing into goals. This was also a feature of their previous games in the tournament, particularly the game against New Zealand which they won 2-0, but in which they failed to convert numerous goal-scoring opportunities. South Africa will have to correct this shortcoming. It may be due to the fact that the South African coach, Joel Santana, has chosen to play with only one striker, Bernard Parker.
However, the positives far outweighed the negatives and South Africa can justifiably be proud of their performance.
The next match on Sunday afternoon provides another stiff test, this time against the No. 1 ranked team in the world, the current European champions, Spain. Should be interesting.