Bafana Bafana gear to take on Portugal

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pretoria - The on-form Bafana Bafana has a tricky task to accomplish on Tuesday - that is to beat star-dominated Portugal in an international friendly match to be played in Switzerland.

The national team flew to Switzerland on Saturday shortly after defeating the European side Norway, 2-1 in the scorching Nelson Mandela Challenge played in the newly re-opened Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

Winning this match has restored confidence ahead of a potentially much tougher friendly against Portugal, in the Swiss city of Lausanne, with Bafana Bafana facing their former coach Carlos Queiroz, who is now the Portuguese coach.

This much anticipated match will be used to test the national team's readiness before the kick-off of the Champions of Champions tournament, the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup which will commence in June in South Africa.

Although South Africa showed an impressive performance against the Norwegians, defeating the Portuguese will not be an easy task.

However, players like Teko Modise is not panic-stricken by Portugal, who ranks 10th in the FIFA World Rankings.

According to the Premier Soccer League website, the Bafana Bafana maestro said the Joel Santana men should not be afraid of Portugal's big names such as the Manchester United star and World Footballer of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo.

"We have had to work hard to beat Norway who were an awkward side to beat. But we wore them down and boosted our chances of upsetting Portugal," said Mr Modise, who is recognised by his well known jersey number 12.

Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena said they will go to play Portugal with their morale sky high.

"We know how important it is to do well against one of the best teams in Europe and keep building a platform for the Confederations Cup."

Many South Africans anticipate a difficult game against Portugal but there are sentiments that the national team will stun the Portuguese, especially after beating Norway which has recently drawn with Germany.

Soccer fan Vusi Chauke from Mamelodi told BuaNews on Monday that Portugal has skilled players but if Bafana Bafana can display the football skills that they showed against Norway, many people will be surprised.

"I believe in our squad and Ronaldo is not a problem. He's a quality player, indeed, but we don't have to worry much about him. I can bet on this one, South Africa will win," said the passionate soccer fan.

Another soccer fan from Pretoria, Alfred Masimula, 50, thinks South Africa will have a tough time against the Portuguese. However, he believes that if the coach can restructure his last wall (defence) then Bafana Bafana can prevent goals.

"We performed very well against Norway but Portugal is a different story, but we must not undermine our team, soccer is an unpredictable game and anything is possible," he said.

The match is expected to kick off at 9:30pm and viewers at home can catch it on SABC 1.

The European side is expected to feature world acclaimed players like Chelsea dynamo Deco, Benfica's Nuno Gomez, Chelsea's defender Ricardo Carvalho and Manchester United's Nani.

The South African side is expected to gunner with the likes of Bernard Parker, who scored a first goal against Norway, Everton's Steven Pienaar, Modise, and Siphiwe Tshabalala who scored a splendid winning goal in the weekend match.

South Africa last beat a European team when Slovenia lost 1-0 at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan, and subsequently lost to Spain, England, Iceland, Germany, Scotland and Italy.

On 6 June Bafana Bafana is expected to face Poland before the Confederations Cup.