South Africa can’t lose against Brazil

June 24th, 2009 - 5:16 pm ICT by IANS  

By Peter Auf der Heyde
Johannesburg, June 24 (DPA) Hosts South Africa have nothing to lose when they take on mighty Brazil in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup Thursday.

Bafana have reached their pre-tournament goal of making the final four and defeat at Ellis Park in Johannesburg against the title holders would be no shame.

“Whatever happens, Bafana can’t really lose. If we lose, it is expected because we are playing against the best team in the world and if we win, it will just be terrific,” said South African goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez.

Orlando Pirates midfielder Teko Modise was upbeat: “But now we want to go further. We want to win and the Brazilians are not unbeatable.”

On the Brazil side, striker Luis Fabiano was slightly wary of the opponent.

“They will run for their lives and they have nothing to lose. If they lose, it is normal, but if they win, it will be like a holiday,” the Sevilla player said.

The two teams have met twice before, with Brazil winning both.

In 1996, the then-African champions took on the then-world champions Brazil at Soccer City in Johannesburg.

Phil Masinga and Doctor Khumalo gave the home side a 2-0 half-time lead. But after Flavio Conceicao brought the South Americans back into the game and the inspirational Khumalo was surprisingly taken off Rivaldo and Bebeto secured a 3-2 win for the Selecao.

A year later Brazil beat South Africa 2-1 at Ellis Park, with Brazil’s current coach Carlos Dunga captaining the winning team.

Fernandez said he can still remember watching the games on television.

“I remember watching the game and thinking that it must be a dream to play against players like Romario and Bebeto, who were in the team then.

“Now it is our turn to make a dream come true. We will be playing against some of the most expensive players in the world. But we do not need to put them on a pedestal. At the end of the day, it is 11 against 11.”

One of the players who will be missing from the starting line-up is midfielder Macbeth Sibaya, who picked up his second yellow card of the tournament against Spain and was given a one-game suspension.

Kaizer Chiefs’ midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala could take his place.

Another worry is striker Bernard Parker, who is injured, but Bafana officials are hopeful that he will be ready to have the Brazilians. If he fails to pass a fitness test, Katlego Mashego will probably take his place.

South Africa’s Brazilian coach Joel Santana knows all about the opponents and was even formerly a coach of Dunga.

“Santana is one of the best Brazilian coaches and I am pleased that we are not taking on each other, but the players are, otherwise I would start well behind,” said Dunga.

“South Africa are an emerging team, but we know they will give us a difficult test. They’re strong, quick and they will have the crowd behind them. But we’ll be well prepared. Brazil have a very strong squad, which helps in a tournament like this,” he said.

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