Bafana ready for Mexican showdown

2010-06-09 08:40

The Bafana Bafana technical team has been working overtime to do

its homework on Group A World Cup opponents Mexico.

Bafana will meet Mexico, which are ranked 17th in the world, in the

opening match of the first World Cup on African soil at Soccer City on Friday at


Bafana assistant coach Jairo Leal said national head coach Carlos

Alberto Parreira and his technical team were “more than satisfied” with the way

Bafana had prepared for the long-awaited Mexican showdown.

“We are well prepared, in fact very well prepared, and we have

observers close to the Mexican camp helping us,” said Leal.

He was impressed by the way the players had got down to business

during the past five months and bought into Parreira’s tactics.

“It has been tremendous. Every single member of the squad is fit

and ready for the battle that lies ahead.

We are confident we can achieve our

first goal of getting into the second round of the World Cup.

“The players have shown their commitment and bought into the head

coach’s plan, and we are looking good and confident.”

Leal disclosed that the Bafana brains trust had what he termed

“observers” watching Bafana’s other two Group A opponents – Uruguay and France.

Bafana play two-time world champions Uruguay at Loftus on June 16

and meet 1998 world champs France in Bloemfontein on June 22.

“We have good information on what is happening inside the Mexican

camp. It helps us prepare Bafana for the big day on Friday.

“We have also done our homework by watching every Mexican game

since they started their World Cup qualifying campaign right up until last

week’s friendly 2-1 win over defending World Cup champions Italy.”

Leal said Parreira knows who the Mexican danger men are and who

Bafana need to keep an eye on.

The threat from midfield could come from Giovanni Dos Santos, who

is on loan to Turkish giants Galatasaray from English Premiership side Tottenham


Leal rates the Mexican strike force highly. “They have (Javier)

Hernandez, who has just signed for Manchester United and is showing top form.

They also have potent strikers in Guillermo Franco (West Ham United) and Carlos

Vera of Arsenal.

They also have the experience of veteran Mexican-based striker

Cuauhtémoc Blanco.

“They are good, top-class professionals and will be tough


Franco plays for the same English Premiership team, West Ham

United, as discarded Bafana striker Benni McCarthy.

McCarthy will not be facing his club mates on Friday as the

overweight former star was dropped by Parreira when the coach trimmed his squad

to 23 last week.

McCarthy is not going to be missed. The players have built up an

amazing team spirit during the camps in Durban, Brazil and Germany.

“The one major plus for us is the fantastic team spirit that has

developed among the players during the three camps this year,” said Leal.

Bafana trained in Durban, Brazil and Germany in preparation for the

World Cup.

Instead of McCarthy, new Bafana hero Katlego Mphela of Mamelodi

Sundowns, who has scored six goals in the last five matches, will carry the

hopes of the nation against Mexico.

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