Excitement as Bafana match approaches

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pretoria - Bafana Bafana will be looking to level matters when they meet Uruguay in a Group A encounter at Loftus Stadium tonight. South Africa has not beaten the South Americans in their previous two meetings.

Carlos Alberto Parreira's boys went down 4-3 in the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1997 with a 90th minute goal by Christian Callejas. Subsequently the sides had a goalless draw in a friendly match played at Ellis Park in 12 September 2009.

But if statistics are anything to go by, one may argue that Bafana Bafana will walk away from tonight's match with a win. Uruguay is yet to beat a host nation during the first round of the FIFA World Cup. Also South Africa is unbeaten in matches played in Tshwane in the build up to the World Cup, with three victories and two draws from five games.

Despite criticism, Parreira is likely to continue with 4-5-1 formation and will most probably utilise Siphiwe Tshabalala as his main forward man. Katlego Mphela and Surprise Moriri will also be crucial in leading the attack against the highly experienced Uruguay side. South Africa's defence team of Lucas Thwala, Anele Ngcongca and Captain Aaron Mokeana will be looking to frustrate Uruguay's front line. Ngcongca, who played most of his soccer in Belgium, made his debut for Bafana Bafana in a friendly match against Japan in November last year. His excellent defending skills at the right back were enough to convince Parreira to include him in the final national squad for the world's biggest football showpiece.

Parreira, who on Tuesday said he was more confident after the opening game against Mexico ended in a one-all draw, is looking at Midfielder Steven Pienaar to shine at Wednesday's match. Pienaar has played 26 matches for Everton, something any footballer would be proud of. And if there is one player who has never let Bafana fans down, it is Pienaar. The diminutive Johannesburg-born midfielder is a world class performer who has done much for his country and club.

Referee Massimo Busacca, who also refereed during the Confederations Cup last year, will be in charge of tonight's match .Kick-off is at 20:30