Bafana begin new era versus Brazil
Bafana Bafana begin life under new coach Gordon Igesund with just about the toughest assignment possible as they meet Brazil in an international friendly in Sao Paulo on Friday night.
Brazil vs Bafana Text Commentary
In many ways it is a little unfair on Igesund for his first run-out with the side, but it is also fair to say that he is under very little pressure to perform. Whatever the result, he is likely to be forgiven.
A short practice time of just three days ahead of the game, which comes just six weeks into his tenure, means that even a heavy defeat would be hard to pin on Igesund.
That being said, he has not helped himself by picking a largely experimental squad filled with uncapped players.
The likes of Feyenoord midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo, Oldham Athletic skipper Dean Furman, Peterborough United left-back Kgosi Ntlhe and Maccabi Haifa forward Dino Ndlovu are all new to the squad.
And what’s more, some of Igesund’s more experienced stars have cried off with injury, including skipper Steven Pienaar. Also out are regular right-back Anele Ngcongca and veteran forward Siyabonga Nomvete.
There are also fitness concerns for Benni McCarthy, who comes into the squad after Nomvete’s replacement, Edward Manqele, also pulled out with a hamstring strain.
Mccarthy had a tight calf on Wednesday and will be monitored in the lead-up to Friday’s clash.
It all means that the preparation for this match has been less than ideal for Igesund – bordering on the shambolic at times – and the game might very well be a study in damage-limitation more than anything else.
Not that the coach is suggesting anything of the sort, he says the team are there to win. Though for his team to come out victors is almost too fanciful to think about. It has now been more than 10 years since Brazil lost at home, and that was a woefully understrength side going down 1-0 to Paraguay in August 2002.
These are very exciting times for our country, especially with the Africa Cup of Nations tournament and the World Cup qualifiers that are coming up. I believe if everyone pulls in the right direction, we can make it happen,” Igesund says.
“The clash with Brazil is going to be very tough, and we will be using it to see what type of players we have available. This is also the chance to get the best possible squad to represent our country at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament next year, which we are hosting.
“We are going out there to do our best, one thing I am sure of, this team will play with pride, passion and commitment – hopefully we can achieve our objectives. The most important thing is that we should not be scared to lose.”
The local press believe that Brazil coach Mano Menezes is under some pressure after recent losses to Mexico and Argentina in June.
He could well be without Barcelona left-back Daniel Alves, who missed Tuesday's training session with a left thigh strain, while Tottenham midfielder Sandro also watched from the sidelines due to a left calf injury.