The ex-Bafana Bafana skipper shrugs off blame for the June 16 heavy defeat by the South Americans
Former South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena says he “always put his body on the line” for his country and cannot be held accountable for the opening goal in the 3-0 defeat by Uruguay at the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
It was the hosts South Africa’s second match of the tournament and the 24th-minute goal by Diego Forlan paved the way for the former Manchester United forward’s brace and another goal by defender Alvaro Pereira.
As Forlan unleashed his shot from outside the box, Mokoena stood in the way of the attempt but swerved his body to avoid the ball hitting him, before it flew past goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.
“I did not duck that ball,” Mokoena said as per New Frame.
“You have followed my career long enough to know that I always put my body on the line whenever I had the national team jersey on. I have never been afraid to throw myself into where it hurts for the sake of protecting the team.
“That Forlan goal was just something special. He simply got the technique of kicking that ball right and that is why it beat both myself and Itu [Khune].
“I was trying to close him down but he took the shot. He was very far from the goals and I didn’t think he would shoot. It has always been my way that I must never allow an opponent to shoot. And I was sure Forlan would not dribble past me as I got in to close him but he took the shot as I was going in on him.”
It was a match which also saw Khune being red-carded after being adjudged to have fouled Luis Suarez inside the penalty box, earning Uruguay a penalty which was converted by Forlan to complete his double.
But it was the first goal which remains a topical issue and then Bafana assistant coach Pitso Mosimane feels Forlan could have been prevented from taking his shot had he been closed in earlier.
“It was a game of moments, hey. I think we could have closed Forlan a little earlier,” said Mosimane.
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“We were too late to get to him and that allowed him to take the shot. But what most people did not realise is that the ball deflected off Mbazo’s [Mokoena] back, hence it went slightly higher. Otherwise, Itu could have saved it.”
The defeat jeopardised Bafana’s chances of reaching the next round after they had drawn 1-1 with Mexico in the opening game of the tournament.
A 2-1 victory over France in their final group game was not enough for South Africa as they went on to become the first World Cup hosts to be eliminated in the group stages.