Bafana should be wary of wounded Brazil

2012-09-07 14:38

Five-time world champions Brazil are expected to come out like wounded tigers in their international friendly match against South Africa tonight.

There are a number of reasons why the country that perfected the sport that started in England should fire on all cylinders.

Coach Mano Menezes has his back against the wall going into this match as the country once more failed to collect the only major prize that has eluded the country, an Olympic gold medal.

The Brazilian Olympic team lost 2-1 to Mexico in the London 2012 Olympic soccer final.

The senior team has just dropped out of the top 10 in Fifa rankings for the first time since the pecking order was introduced in 1992. Brazil are now ranked number 13 in the world, their lowest in history.

These are the thoughts that Neymar and his team-mates will have at the back of their minds going into their friendly against Bafana Bafana at the Morumbi Stadium tonight.

While the stadium might not be packed to capacity, owing to the bank holiday that starts today and, we are told, there is a great exodus of city dwellers to the countryside for the long weekend during this period, quite a sizeable number are expected to turn up since it’s the first time in five years that Brazil will be playing in this massive city.

By yesterday, we were told that more than 40 000 tickets had been purchased and there were long queues outside the stadium as we left, following a Bafana training session.

That a crowd of around 5 000 watched Brazil train yesterday afternoon shows the level of interest in this game, or rather in the national team.

That Barcelona right-back Dani Alves might not play, as he did not train due to injury, should not be cause for bother or any sigh of relief for South Africans. Brazil have replacements for each position in abundance.

Another factor that could propel the players to play their hearts out is the fact that in the current crop of Neymar, Lucas, Adriano and Luiz, there is still no one reaching the iconic status achieved by the likes of Pele, Jairzinho, Socrates and, recently, Ronaldo.

A number of them have flattered to deceive.

In the current squad – while Neymar is seen as a rising star, hence his country’s refusal to let him go to Europe until after the 2014 shindig – no player has taken charge and risen to the top while the chips are down.

South Africa – who have never beaten Brazil at senior level – should be wary of a bruised and wounded Seleção.

Brazil play China in another friendly on Tuesday. 

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