Bafana could make history

2010-06-16 00:00

BAFANA Bafana will stand on the verge of sporting history if they can beat Uruguay in their second World Cup Group A game at Loftus tonight, which would put South Africa in pole position to progress to the second round.

Uruguay have always looked the most beatable of Bafana’s Group A opponents.

Bafana’s second-half performance in their 1-1 opening draw against Mexico has caught the attention of the foreign press, who have become aware that if the 83rd-ranked host nation can reach the second round, it would make for an dream story.

It would be history for the players and the country, and for Carlos Alberto Parreira it would confirm the Brazil 1994 World Cup-winning manager’s status internationally as a coaching maestro.

While four points is usually enough to progress past the World Cup’s group stages, Parreira warned that beating Uruguay will not mean South Africa are mathematically through to the next round.

Goal difference might still come into play should South Africa lose their final match against France in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

“It’s very clear — from the remaining two games we need to win one. Of course, we would also want to win the final game,” the coach said.

“But still, every team who do not win their second match will still have a chance in their final game.

“That means the competition will be decided in the final round. Even if we win tomorrow, I am not secure that we are going to qualify because it could still depend on the goal difference in the final round.”

The coach said that after a cautious start by many teams at the World Cup, the second round of group stage matches will require the taking of bigger risks.

Asked how South Africa can beat Uruguay, Parreira replied: “They’re very strong on defence, with the good speed of [Luis] Suarez and [Diego] Forlan up front and the wide players who can break very quickly.

“But we have to find a way — it’s going to be a battle between our technique and skill to try to penetrate their defence. France tried the whole night and they couldn’t, although they have a lot of good players.

“But now it’s different — you cannot stay behind all the time waiting for one chance. Now is the time where people have to go for decisions.

“There are only two games and you have to win at least one of them.

“I think we have to take a decision and some risks in the game, and even the Uruguayans, otherwise we will go nowhere. If you finish with three draws you are out of the competition.”

Parreira will make one change from the team that drew against Mexico, with Tsepo Masilela replacing Lucas Thwala at left-back, after the Orlando Pirates captain had a nightmare in the first half during the opener.

“We might make one change — maximum two — but because I have not spoken to the players yet I am not going to announce it,” the coach said.

“It’s not time to change the team. It’s time to give them encouragement and tell them the conditions they will playing in, the understanding in training.”

The coach said Bafana will take a different approach tactically against the more physical, defensive Uruguay than against highly attacking Mexico.

“The philosophy of playing will be a little bit different. I cannot tell you how, but it will change from Mexico.

“There is not other team like Mexico in this whole World Cup. They are the daring team of the competition.

“… With Uruguay it’s different. They are solid in defence. You have to go for them. They are one of the few teams in the competition who play with three centre-backs. And they have two strikers who are top scorers in European leagues.”

Parreira was asked if Bafana will pay special attention to Uruguay’s danger striker, Diego Forlan.

“Yeah sure, he’s a player you cannot leave free. I know him from many years coaching the Brazilian national team and he used to always score against us.

“He’s been a top scorer in Spain. He’s in top shape now, and good form. You cannot miss him — we have to watch watch him for 90 minutes.”

Bafana players such as goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, striker Katlego Mphela and left wing Siphiwe Tshabalala, with his superb opening goal, have attracted international attention with their heroics against Mexico.

They will take a step closer to writing their names into South African sporting folklore if they can beat Uruguay tonight.

LIKELY BAFANA LINE-UP

Itumeleng Khune – Siboniso Gaxa, Bongani Khumalo, Aaron Mokoena, Tsepo Masilela – Teko Modise, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Steven Pienaar, Siphiwe Tshabalala – Katlego Mphela

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