Itumeleng Khune was probably the star of the show, justifying his inclusion in the side with several excellent saves, though the whole of South Africa’s back four also put up a heroic effort.
And it was not all one way traffic as South Africa more than matched their opponents until Mothobi Mvala’s sending off on the hour mark.
Captain Keagan Dolly was superb for Owen Da Gama’s side while Lebo Mothiba led the line well but also wasted three gilt-edged opportunities that might have won the game for South Africa.
Still, a point is a fantastic result against the host nation and Da Gama’s side can take plenty of confidence into Monday’s clash with Denmark.
South Africa had a fantastic chance to take the lead as early as the fourth minute, Mothiba running clear on goal, but Brazil goalkeeper Weverton came out to make the block.
Thiago Maia curled a shot over at the other end, but South Africa more than held their own in the early stages, Aubrey Modiba also dragging a low shot wide.
Brazil’s young striking sensation Gabriel Jesus burst away in the 18th minute down the right, and sent in a decent cross, but Abbubaker Mobara got in a clearing header with Brazil captain Neymar lurking.
South Africa were playing some lovely passing football, and one move in the 28th minute saw Gift Motupa spread a superb ball into the path of Dolly. The South African captain’s pinged cross was dropped by Weverton, but gathered at the second attempt.
A minute later and Khune was called into action for the first time, tipping over Neymar’s vicious shot.
In the 32nd minute, Dolly swung in a superb corner and Mothiba got to the ball before Weverton, but couldn’t direct his header on target. Dolly then fizzed and effort just wide of the Brazilian goal, while at the other end, Felipe Anderson also just missed with a searing volley.
Four minutes from half time Khune made an even more spectacular save, from another Neymar piledriver.
South Africa created another chance three minutes after the break, Dolly playing a superb one-two and firing a ball across the face of the Brazilian goal.
Brazil threatened again in the 51st minute, Gabigol cutting in from the right, but firing straight at Khune.
In the 54th minute, Mothiba spurned another wonderful chance, as he got on the end of a quite sublime Dolly cross, but headed straight at Weverton.
Mvala went into the referee’s book in the 55th minute, for a foul on Neymar. If that yellow card was harsh, Mvala could have no real excuses for the rash challenge five minutes later, that saw him sent off for a second bookable offence.
In the meantime, South Africa had brought on Tashreeq Morris for Menzi Masuku, but he was suddenly reduced to a more defensive role, as Brazil piled forward at the ten men.
And the Selecao missed an amazing opportunity to take the lead in the 69th minute as the ball found Gabriel Jesus at the far post, but from two yards out he somehow hit the post.
Another long-range effort from Neymar three minutes later skimmed the top of the net as South Africa sat deeper and deeper.
Khune produced another tremendous save in the 75th minute to deny Gabigol, as he latched on to a brilliant pass from Neymar. And the South African ‘keeper then had to be alert to catch a spectacular overhead kick from the same player.
Eric Mathoho was booked in the last minute of normal time for a knee in the back of Gabriel Jesus.
Neymar had a chance in the last seconds of stoppage time, but his shot was fairly comfortable for Khune and South Africa held out for a courageous point.