Brazil acid test for Bafana
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Gordon Igesund and his Bafana Bafana squad will be under the microscope as they face an acid test with friendly matches against Brazil on September 7 and Mozambique four days later.
Bafana travel to Rio for the friendly against the five-time world champions and will host The Black Mambas in Nelspruit on September 11.
Igesund has been making all the right noises since his appointment and has been talking a very good game of soccer, but these two matches will show whether he has the kind of players to match his gift of the gab.
Under different circumstances, one would intimate that Brazil - who were ranked 13th in the latest FIFA rankings released on August 8, their lowest since rankings began in December 1992 - were there for the taking.
However, Bafana, at No 67, are not world beaters either. Also, their recent performances have not inspired much confidence.
Even if they lose to the Seleção Brasileira, they should redeem themselves against the No 107-ranked Black Mambas.
The next rankings will be released on September 5, two days before the Brazil match, and it will come as no surprise if Bafana drop a few notches lower as they have been inactive for quite some time.
As if the pressure of taking over a dejected Bafana team was not enough for Igesund, other national teams and athletes from the different sporting codes, have put even more pressure on the football national team.
What with the Proteas having just walloped England to become the No 1 Test team in the world? Add to that the Springboks' good start against Argentina in the new Rugby Championship, Team SA bringing home six medals from the London Olympic Games and the Netball Proteas beating Malawi in the Diamond Challenge to become the No 1 netball-playing country on the continent.
These, plus the fact that the Paralympians who left this week for London have promised to bring back a bigger bagful of medals than the 30 they brought from Beijing in 2008.
All this adds to the pressure for Bafana to perform well.
Also, focus will now shift a little bit from Igesund who has been occupying the spotlight since his appointment, to the players.
With the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals only a mere four months away, results will be paramount.
Dissembling the team completely, could be disastrous as they might take quite some time to gel. But continuing with those players who had become permanent features in former Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane’s team, will have its own downside.Igesund's squad to face Brazil and Mozambique:Goalkeepers
Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs)
Siyabonga Sangweni (Orlando Pirates), Bevan Fransman (SuperSport United), Bongani Khumalo (PAOK, Greece), Erick Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Anele Ngcongca (Genk, Belgium), Punch Masenamela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates), Kgosi Ntlhe (Peterborough, England)
Kamohelo Mokotjo (Feyenoord, Holland), Steven Pienaar (captain - Everton, England), Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Siphiwe Tshabalala (both Kaizer Chiefs), Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam, Holland), Katlego Mashego (Free State Stars), Dean Furman (Oldham Athletic, England), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace, England), May Mahlangu (Malmo, Sweden), Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows)
Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs), Siyabonga Nomvete (Moroka Swallows), Dino Ndlovu (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Thamsanqa Gabuza (Golden Arrows)S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.
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