Praise heaped upon Brazil
Johannesburg - The "real beautiful game" is returning to South Africa with the arrival of near-mythical soccer champions Brazil, South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has said on Thursday.
"It's always an honour playing against Brazil," Jordaan told reporters ahead of the clash between the five-times world champions and Bafana Bafana at FNB Stadium on Wednesday.
"(Especially) with their special brand of soccer and almost mythical stature as the high priests of the game."
It was arguably the greatest of all soccer players, Brazil's Pele, who coined the phrase "the beautiful game."
But Pele's assertion has been widely misconstrued over the years.
He was referring to the style of soccer to which Brazil aspire, which is based on flawless ball control, unwavering possession, enterprise, inventiveness and dynamic goal-scoring in one bundle and not the game of soccer in its all-encompassing, warts-and-all context.
Jordaan intimated that "the real beautiful game" was indeed returning to South Africa.
He said the match also held other significant aspects, which made it a very special occasion.
"Firstly it will be the symbolic handing over of the baton from the 2010 World Cup hosts, South Africa, to the country who will be staging the 2014 version of the event in little more than three months time," Jordaan said.
"It also marks the 20th anniversary of the dismantling of apartheid in 1994 and presents another appropriate occasion to honour the memory of Madiba, who made it all possible.
"What is more, this is the second-last game for Brazil before they launch their campaign for a sixth World Cup title on home soil."
He said South Africa was honoured that Brazil chose them as opponents when "more than 200 other soccer-playing nations would have jumped at the opportunity to be in our shoes".
The Safa president also pointed to the fact that while Bafana had lost all four previous games against Brazil, they had extended the purveyors of "the beautiful game" each time and lost by a one-goal margin on all four occasions.
"What is more, it was only a late goal on three of these occasions that was Bafana's undoing," said Jordaan.
"But it showed how Brazil can pull a rabbit out of the hat when it is most needed and Bafana need to be vigilant for the full 90 minutes."
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane told the media the international between Bafana and Brazil was another opportunity to show the outside world how good the country was in hosting major events.
"I personally, am excited at the prospect of being there as anyone," she said.
Makonyane also said President Jacob Zuma would be among the dignitaries at FNB Stadium for the clash.
"This is a special occasion which should be celebrated by all South Africans.
"We should also take this occasion to celebrate our late father of the nation, Nelson Mandela's legacy," she said.