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18 June 1998 Group C Toulouse - Stadium Municipal
South Africa Denmark
South Africa kept their World Cup survival hopes alive after this 1-1 Group C draw against Denmark in the Stade Municipal, Toulouse. However, the match was marred by the over-zealous refereeing of the Colombian official Toro Rendon who sent off three players and booked seven more in what was never a dirty game. The 20 previous matches in France 98 had been officiated using common sense despite the strict FIFA directive laid down, with the players responding in a mindful manner and the number of truly bad tackles committed could be counted on one hand. However, prior to this match the refereeing in the tournament had been severely criticised by Michel Platini, Sepp Blatter and other members of the Organising Committee who wanted the officials to adhere more strictly to their directive. Whether the Colombian referee felt threatened by remarks made or whether his performance was true to nature will be debated, but the fact remains that a totally enjoyable game of football was ruined by decisions made for whatever reason. South Africa's coach Philippe Troussier had labelled this vital match as a "Cup Final" for his team, realising that defeat would be the end of the World Cup dream, and his side began in typically edgy fashion with so much at stake. It was no surprise when Denmark took the lead after 13 minutes when Brian Laudrup was afforded the luxury of the freedom of the park to pick out Allan Neilsen at the far post to finish with an emphatic volley. At this stage the younger of the two Laudrup brothers was running the show and he was denied on 18 minutes when Hans Vonk saved from his point-blank header after Jorgensen's inswinging corner had crashed out off the far post. Gradually the South Africans got into their stride and Helman Mkhalele was guilty of the miss of the Tournament when inexplicably failing to knock home into an open goal following Benedict McCarthy's cross after 28 minutes. The same player then saw a couple of efforts blocked as he attempted to make amends, but it was the Danes who very nearly doubled their lead when Ebbe Sand drove a shot against the woodwork again just before the interval. After the break there was more purpose and urgency about the South Africans' play and they deservedly equalised after 52 minutes through 21-year-old McCarthy following a neat three-man move. Confidence visibly flowed through the side as the amazing turnaround in fortunes produced some breathtaking football with the full repertoire of flicks and backheels. Denmark were then reduced to ten men on 67 minutes when substitute Molnar, who had only been on the pitch nine minutes, was sent off for an innocuous looking challenge. The decision led to a cacophony of boos from the Danish contingent in the crowd for the inconsistent John Jairo Toro Rendon who had already booked six players, including Peter Schmeichel for time-wasting, when the Danish 'keeper was waiting for a substitution to be made. However, two minutes later South Africa had Phiri dismissed for apparent violent conduct as players previously committed to tackling and challenging were fearful of physical contact as the game became a sham. The Africans brought on Phil Masinga and the Danes introduced Morten Wieghorst as both sides went in search of all three points and Wieghorst skied a glorious opportunity over the bar before becoming the third player red-carded having been on the pitch for just three minutes. With Denmark now down to nine men Quinton Fortune rattled Schmeichel's crossbar with a magnificent 89th-minute strike which proved to be the last action of the game. The result means that South Africa must beat Saudi Arabia to stand any chance of progressing, whilst Denmark face host nation France and need a point to reach the second stage.

(1-1) McCarthy (52). John Moshoeu danced past a couple of challenges towards the edge of the box and passed to Shaun Bartlett whose backheel was collected by the young striker before firing home low and left-footed through the legs of 'keeper Schmeichel from eight yards.

(0-1) Nielsen (13). Brian Laudrup was allowed acres of space down the right channel to deliver a teasing cross to the far post where the midfielder arrived unmarked to fire home a right-footed volley which had too much power for 'keeper Vonk at his right-hand post.

 
 
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