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   June 8, 2002 | 1400 IST



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South Africa send Slovenia packing

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Steve Bryant

Siyabonga Nomvethe's fluke goal gave South Africa a 1-0 win over Slovenia in a scrappy World Cup group B match on Sunday, ending a disastrous week for the European side by knocking them out of the tournament.

Nomvethe was unmarked as he stooped to head a Quinton Fortune free-kick from the left, but the ball struck his thigh and flew into the net after only four minutes, sealing South Africa's first World Cup finals victory.

South Africa were left in second place in the group on four points behind Spain, who booked their place in the second round on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Paraguay.

Siyabonga Nomvethe (R) displays a picture of his child on a t-shirt worn beneath his jersey while celebrating his goal with Quinton Fortune (L) and Teboho Mokoena.Slovenia, playing in their first World Cup, had clearly failed to regroup following the expulsion on Thursday of playmaker Zlatko Zahovic who was booted out of the squad for rowing with coach Srecko Katanec, and appeared woefully short of creativity and spirit.

They failed to put a single shot on goal to test South African keeper Andre Arendse in the first half.

The South Africans, playing in only their second World Cup finals after their debut in 1998, provided the more attacking football, but even they sometimes looked ragged, with numerous crosses and free kicks mis-hit or landing in empty space.

South Africa coach Jomo Sono played two strikers and was rewarded with far more chances, many of them coming from crosses from midfielders Fortune and Sibusiso Zuma.

Slovenia defender Aleksander Knavs appeared to be marking Benni McCarthy in the first half, but that left Nomvethe with the space to run down the right, often backed by Zuma.

Match officials ordered an increasingly disgruntled and protesting Katanec, who has pledged to quit Slovenia after the World Cup, to leave the dugout and watch the second half from the stands.

From there he ordered a double substitution, replacing Milenko Acimovic -- an ineffective stand-in for Zahovic -- with Nastja Ceh and Knavs with Spasoje Bulajic.

The move added some graft to the Slovenian midfield and defence and produced a couple of late half-chances.

South Africa drew their opening game against Paraguay 2-2.

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