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Football: Australia struggle in draw with South Africa

Australia's Socceroos failed to raise their World Cup hopes with a struggling 1-1 draw against South Africa in a warm-up match for Brazil in Sydney on Monday.

SYDNEY: Australia's Socceroos failed to raise their World Cup hopes with a struggling 1-1 draw against South Africa in a warm-up match for Brazil in Sydney on Monday.

Both goals came one minute apart early in the opening half and chances dwindled as the match petered out in a stalemate before 50,000 fans at the Olympic stadium.

Tim Cahill, leading his country for the first time in his 69th international, equalised for the Socceroos in the 14th minute after Ayanda Patosi opened the scoring a minute earlier.

While Australia did not play injured first-choice squad members Mile Jedinak, Mark Bresciano and Matthew Spiranovic, there was not much to enthuse about before the squad depart for Brazil on Wednesday.

"It was a good opening 20-25 minutes and after that it looked like we struggled a bit physically and some of our decisions weren't great," coach Ange Postecoglou said.

"To be honest, the players with the work they've done for the last 10 days it's not really surprising, we've used this period to really work them hard."

The inexperienced Australians, the lowest ranked team at 59 in the tournament, face a daunting task in Brazil against Spain, the Netherlands and Chile in Group B, with few giving them much hope of upsetting the established order.

It is a Socceroos side in transition following the dropping of former captain and defender Lucas Neill and the recent international retirements of goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, forward Harry Kewell and midfielders Brett Emerton and Brett Holman.

The team nicknamed "Bafana Bafana", who shocked the reigning world champions Spain 1-0 in Soweto last November, brought over a much-depleted outfit with half the original 18-strong squad pulling out with injuries.

Coach Gordon Igesund was forced into a late scramble for replacements.

"We achieved what we needed to achieve. Both teams needed the exercise for different reasons," Igesund said.

"There was a lot of talk before the match about South Africa coming here with a team that was a farce.

"I thought they did really well, they worked hard and I think we deserved to get something out of the game."

Australia enjoyed their best period in the match straight from the kickoff and dominated early possession with FC Utrecht winger Tommy Oar prominent, forcing Ronwen Williams into a couple of saves.

But South Africa scored first when AFC Bournemouth's Tokelo Rantie broke clear on the left and laid off for Belgian-based Patosi to beat Mat Ryan with a well-struck volley inisde the far post in the 13th minute.

The Socceroos hit back a minute later when Oar's cross was headed firmly by Cahill past the goalkeeper.

Kaizer Chiefs defender Eric Mathoho attempted to clear but videos showed the ball crossed the line and Cahill was credited with his 33rd international goal.

South Africa gave the home defence some problems late in the half and the Australian midfield was leaving space with the defence lying deep, giving Bafana Bafana more opportunities to run the ball.

Ajax playmaker Thulani Serero was influential for South Africa and James Holland received a yellow card for hacking him down midway through the opening half.

Right-back Ivan Franjic took a knock above his right knee and was replaced by the experienced Luke Wilkshire early in the second half.

Japan-based striker Josh Kennedy was brought on for the last six minutes in a bid to get a late winner but it failed to materialise, although substitute Oliver Bozanic went close with a stoppage-time header.

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