South Africa’s hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the FIFA U20 World Cup were dashed after going down 2-0 to Italy in their second Group D match on Wednesday at the Suwon Stadium.
A converted penalty by Orsolini in the first half and an early goal in the second placed Italy in an unassailable position to register their first win of the competition following their 1-0 defeat to Uruguay.
This was Amajita’s second defeat in a row having lost 2-1 to Japan in the opening match on Sunday.
Italy were quick to get off their starting blocks when Amajita keeper, Mondli Mpoto was called to action in the opening five minutes when a well struck shot by Paolo Ghiglione found the South African keeper on high alert.
A minute later, it was South Africa who asked questions when nippy midfielder Sbongakonke Mbatha tried his luck from outside the box with a long-range effort that went over the bar. Mbatha’s shot proved to be the only attempt at goal in the first half for South Africa who were kept at bay by the resolute Azzurrini defense.
Mpoto again came to the rescue for South Africa after danger man, Andrea Favilli moved out wide before unleashing a fierce strike which was parried away by Mpoto to keep South Africa in the game.
Italy continued to pile on the pressure and their efforts finally paid off in the 22nd minute when Meyiwa was adjudged to have brought down Riccardo Orsolini in the box. The burly forward made no mistake as he stepped up to fire Italy into the lead.
The goal seemed to push Amajita further into the defensive mode as they were barely in their opponent’s half with most of their build-ups from the midfield being quickly dealt with.
Favilli remained a constant threat to Amajita’s defense as he almost registered his name onto the scoresheet with a brilliantly taken volley that had the beating of Mpoto but went just over the bar.
Things got off to a rocky start in the second half for Amajita with an early goal courtesy of a well taken header by Favilli to put the game beyond reach for Thabo Senong’s charges.
The introduction of Teboho Mokoena and Keletso Makgalwa seemed to inject some life into the Amajita attack. Mokoena who joined the squad late due to club commitments almost made an immediate impact after latching onto a ball with his first touch but saw his effort saved by the keeper.
South Africa continued their efforts of getting behind Italy’s defense but were constantly let down by decision making in the final third.
Amajita skipper, Tercious Malepe who had a tough time keeping the Italian forwards in check almost got the consolation goal for his side in stoppage time after the ball fell kindly to him unmarked but failed to direct his shot.
Amajita will now have to rely on Japan to do them a favour by beating Italy in their last fixture on Saturday and hope to score three goals with no reply from Uruguay to have any hope of progressing further in the tournament.