Bafana more confident now opening game has gone

2010-06-15 08:20

Now that the pressure and tension of the opening day draw with

Mexico is out of the way, South Africa is gaining confidence ahead of tomorrow’s

match against a Uruguay lineup that could well field three strikers.

Although Mexico hit back in a 1-1 draw to deny the South Africans a

victory at Soccer City on Friday, the hosts are satisfied that their overall

performance in the game boosted their chances of beating two-time World Cup

winner Uruguay at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria.

“We will be more relaxed against Uruguay now that we have Mexico

out of the way. We were all nervous in that first game,” midfielder Steven

Pienaar said. “But we got our act together in the second half and need to

continue from there against Uruguay.”

With a match against France to follow at Bloemfontein on June 22,

South Africa must avoid a loss against the Uruguayans, who opened with a

scoreless draw against France to leave all four Group A teams with one point

apiece. The French face Mexico at Polokwane on Thursday and both those teams

will know exactly what they have to do to go top.

“We simply cannot afford to lose as that would mean playing

catch-up in our final group match against France,” Pienaar said.

“We have to be fully focused against Uruguay, who are a well

organised side defensively and have good attacking players. But the way we

played in the second half against Mexico has given us a huge boost.”

Siphiwe Tshabalala’s stunning strike against the Mexicans was one

of the best ever goals in an opening game and lifted the confidence of a South

African team under great pressure from the nation hosting the first World Cup on

the African continent.

South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is likely to recall

experienced leftback Tsepo Masilela to the starting lineup in the only expected

change. He replaced Lucas Thwala in the second half against the Mexicans.

Rightback Siboniso Gaxa said he and Masilela hoped to get forward

against Uruguay.

“We will have to use our wingbacks more instead of pushing into the

centre of the field to try and pull the Uruguay defence away,” Gaxa said. “We

have been working on this and aim to surprise Uruguay.”

Nicolas Lodeiro is missing for Uruguay after being sent off in the

draw with France but he was not expected to start anyway.

Coach Oscar Tabarez has made other changes and adjusted his lineup

to play with three forwards.

Diego Forlan is expected to drop deeper and play behind Luis Suarez

and Edison Cavani.

“This is a different game and another rival with totally different

tactics than ... France,” Tabarez said. “While we try not to depend too much on

our rivals, we have to take into account what our rivals do.

“With our group all level, we are not going to attack in

desperation nor are we going to defend deeply. We have to show balance and

patience.”


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