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Date: 14 December 2018

  South African - Soccer

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Bafana pass the test: Bring on the Mexicans!

[Posted 08 Jun 2010]
Bafana pass the test: Bring on the Mexicans!


By Brighton Mupangavanhu

The stage is set for a very interesting duel between two teams with different systems of play during the World Cup opening match. Two teams in great form, South Africa and Mexico will clash in the 2010 World Cup opening match on Friday 11 June at the Soccer City Stadium.

In South Africa, there is a strong sense and belief that Bafana Bafana have now proved their pedigree over the past few months and are ready for the Mexican challenge. The match against Denmark had been set as final test for Bafana to prove their readiness to face Mexico on 11 June. The team played well and overcame the Danes 1-0 courtesy of a 76th strike by chief striker Katlego Mphela.

International and local media has been awash with statistics of South Africa's 12-match unbeaten run ever since the return of Parreira in November 2009. During the three camps held to prepare Bafana for the World Cup and all the friendly matches in between, Bafana have grown in fitness and confidence.

Morale in the Bafana camp is at an all-time high. What, with the reality that Bafana have beaten very good teams in the form of Columbia and Denmark in their last three friendly matches. The nation has a reason to hope and believe that the boys will deliver their first ever victory in a World Cup match on Friday.

Such hope and belief is inspired by the realisation that in the last five matches played against South American opposition between 2009 and 2010, Bafana have prevailed three times against Paraguay in a 3-0 victory (in 2009), Columbia and Guatemala whom they recently beat 2-1 and 5-1 respectively. They drew with Paraguay during their training camp in Brazil a few months ago. Their only loss came against Brazil during a semi-final Confederations Cup match on 25 June last year. The FIFA highest ranked team needed a very late 87th minute goal from a Daniel Alves free-kick to beat a battling Bafana 0-1 in that match.

Given the above statistics, can anyone really blame South Africans and Africans for believing that South Africa will silence the confident Mexicans? Mexico midfielder Andres Guardado believes that Mexican players are superior to the Africans and that his team will win this match and even progress as far as the quarter-finals.

"Our preparation has been very good; we have not reached our peak yet. Mexico have the capacity to play the best World Cup in their history ... and get to the fifth (quarter-final) match but we want to go further", boasted Guardado.

The Mexicans have been showing such great form in their recent matches that they can beat any team on their day. Against England at Wembley on 25 May, Mexico lost a match which observers felt they dominated. A day after England's 3-1 win, British sports website Metro ran a story about the match entitled "England beat Mexico in unconvincing Wembley win". Thats how impressive the Mexicans were that the Three Lions' supporters were disappointed at being dominated by Mexico at home, despite the fact that England went on to win the match.

Mexicans have a reputation for being risk takers and playing a very confusing football formation. Bafana Assistant coach Pitso Mosimane even bemourns this aspect of the Mexican game. Speaking to Kick-Off.com, "Jingles" had this to say about the Mexicans,

"It will be a big tough game. You know how they play; they are more complex than what you saw against Denmark. They play 3-4-3 and switch to 3-5-2. They are very difficult to contain under those circumstances. They are so comfortable on the ball it is not funny! Their system is so confusing to their opponents that a 3-5-2 formation ends with six players in your own half when they are attacking. They are brave and they are risk-takers."

Bafana will have to be wary of the skills of Mexican players,particularly their never-say-die spirit. They will attack until the final whistle. It is not clear whether the South Americans will be deterred even by the loudest of vuvuzela sounds. Mexico are the type of a team who can be beaten by a margin of two goals or more on their worst day. Yet they are also the type of a team who can hit you with an avalanche of goals on their day. Thats how much they are willing to take risks.

On the other hand, Bafana are bubbling with confidence. Everything appears to be going their way. They boast one of the fittest squads at this year's world cup, thanks to three training camps organised by Head coach Parreira. They have been buoyed by good results which have been trickling in. They have the secret weapon called the Madiba magic, and last but not least, the vuvuzela wielding fans are their trusted 12th man. They will blow those vuvuzelas even when the team is down. In addition to all this, Africans will be offering all kinds of prayers for the home team to succeed.

It is interesting to see how Mexico will deal with all these factors arraigned against them come Friday 11 June at the intimidating atmosphere of the 90 000-seater Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. Shappa Bafana! Shappa!

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