Tough time for defenders against Brazil – Itumeleng Khune

2014-06-12 15:36

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Defending against the Brazilian onslaught could be likened to chasing shadows and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune believes teams are in for a tough time against the host nation during the 2014 Soccer World Cup in Brazil.

“You never really know where the threat to goal will come from,” the Bafana captain said today.

“If you try to stop Neymar, they’ve got Oscar. If you try to stop Oscar, they’ve got Bernard. So it’s hard to predict.”

Having lost 1-0 to Brazil in 2012 during a friendly match, from Khune’s vantage point between the posts he witnessed first-hand the attacking capabilities of the five-time Fifa World Cup champions.

Khune believed his goalkeeping counterparts would have to be at their best to thwart the Barcelona poster boy Neymar, who carries the burden of hope for his nation.

“I think Neymar will use his skill and trickery to eliminate the opposition defence. He’ll be difficult to stop, that much I know.

“I think he is more himself when he plays for his country. When he plays for Barcelona, he doesn’t dribble that much and usually just traps and passes the ball. But, at the World Cup, he’ll have more freedom and will be able to express himself.”

With Bafana having failed to qualify for the global spectacle, Khune said he would watching at home with some of his Kaizer Chiefs club mates when Brazil take on Croatia in São Paulo today.

“I’m having a braai at my house tonight for the opening game. I’ll be relaxing with my team-mates and we’ll be watching the game together. It should be fun.”

Having taken part in the previous opening match of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, four years later Khune harboured fragmented feelings of disappointment, having to trade the global centre stage for his couch.

“Any player in the world would have loved to play in Brazil.

“We had a good experience at home and it will remain one of the highlights of my career. Maybe next time we can qualify, but for now I’ll have to settle for my couch.”

In the Khune household, it appeared predictions were heavily stacked in favour of the host nation.

“Most of the guys are going for Brazil. They are obviously boosted by the fact that they are playing in front of their home fans.

“I think they can go all the way. They have a number of quality players in their squad.

“It will be interesting to watch how it goes though, and to see who will be some of the surprise nations who perform well.”

Khune was hoping one of those dark horses would come from Africa.

“I think Ghana or Ivory Coast can do well. We’ll see, who knows.”

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