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24 June 1998 Group C Bordeaux - Stade Lescure
South Africa Saudi Arabia
In what must be one of the poorest games ever to have graced the World Cup finals stage, South Africa and Saudi Arabia could not be separated, even by some very dubious refereeing. Mr Sanchez Yanten from Chile awarded three penalties in a match where the score was completely unreflective of the game. At the start of the afternoon, South Africa were still in a position to qualify for the second stage - as long as hosts France were to beat Denmark in the other Group C game. And although the game began at a pedestrian pace, Phillippe Troussier's side did look as if they were about to display a serious challenge. When, on 18 minutes, Shaun Bartlett gave them the lead, qualification was definitely achievable. The Saudi's were happy to play keep ball in the first two thirds of the pitch but when it came to going forward and into the last third, their passing fell apart. Their best chance of the half fell to al-Jaber, who saw his shot tipped over the bar by Hans Vonk. With the South Africans in control, it was with complete disbelief that many spectators saw the referee indicate a Saudi penalty when Hussain Sulimani dived over Pierre Issa's leg during first half added time. Sami al-Jaber stepped up and made no mistake from the spot, levelling the scores as both sides went in for the break. The expected second half South African onslaught never materialised and the pace of the game slowed even further. It even appeared that they were resigned to their fate and were playing out time. With neither team showing any sign of stamping any authority on the game it was the referee, once again, who decided he would influence proceedings. In the 73rd minute, during the Saudis first attack of the half, Issa was once again deemed to have impeded an attacker, substitute al-Shahrani. For the second penalty, captain Youssef al-Thyniyan took responsibility and placed his kick in the bottom left corner, sending the 'keeper the wrong way. The South Africans attempted to up the tempo at this point but could not deliver the delving cross or decisive pass that was needed to penetrate the eleven man Saudi defence. Chance after chance was sent high, wide or into the arms of a grateful Mohammed al-Deayea in the Arabian goal. Eventually, with the half again nearing its end, it was South Africa's turn to benefit from the bizarre refereeing decision. Substitute Jerry Sikhosana, just inside the Saudi area with his back to goal went tumbling under the challenge from Sulimani, everyone looked at the referee and Mr Sanchez Yanten did not disappoint, pointing straight to at the penalty spot. Up stepped Bartlett to hammer home the kick and level the scores. Both sides now have four years to reflect upon their performances over the last two weeks and if FIFA are to be believed, Mr Sanchez Yanten should be following the teams home sooner rather than later.

(1-0) Bartlett (18). Issa played the ball through from the halfway line, Bartlett turned Amin and ran into the box, as the last defender came to close him down he unleashed a left foot shot from an acute angle five yards out, beating Al-Deayea on his near post.

(1-1) al-Jaber (45, pen). al-Thyniyan fooled the referee into believing that Issa had tripped him in the area and al-Jaber stepped up to place his spot-kick, right-footed into the right-hand corner of Vonk's net.

(2-2) Bartlett (90, pen). Having awarded two penalties to the Saudis, the referee had little choice but give one for South Africa when Sikhosana went down in the Saudi area under a challenge from Sulimani, Shaun Bartlett placed his right-footed kick into the top left-hand corner of the net.

(1-2) al-Thyniyan (74, pen). Issa was again harshly adjudged to have fouled a Saudi player in the area, this time it was al-Sharani, with a change in taker, captain al-Thyniyan placed his strike, right-footed into the bottom left-hand corner of the net, sending Vonk the wrong way.

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