Bafana to play Portugal
Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana will play against World and European Player of the Year Christiano Ronaldo's Portugal on April 1 in Switzerland in a bid to beef up the national squad's hopes of making a splash at the Confederations Cup which kicks off on June 14 at Ellis Park.
Friendly matches against leading European nations, Poland and Norway are signed and sealed.
This was announced on Thursday by South African Football Association CEO Raymond Hack who said that the match against Norway would be staged at the revamped Royal Bafokeng Sports Stadium on March 28 while the Portugal clash will be played in Lucerne, Switzerland and Poland meet Bafana in South Africa on June 6. That venue is still to be finalised.
Said Hack: "We have finalised negotiations with the Portuguese FA through a Fifa agent and all that needs to be completed is signing the contract. But I do not see any problems and we believe playing a class side like Portugal on neutral ground will show the coach how far the squad is progressing and our readiness for the Confederations Cup."
The showdown against Portugal will have added spice as former Bafana head coach, Real Madrid and Manchester United coach Carlos Queiroz is now in charge of star-studded Portugal.
Queiroz has a quality, world class side who, apart from their Manchester United star Ronaldo, have the talents of Deco, the classy Chelsea midfield maestro plus former Tottenham Hotspur striker Helder Postiga , midfielder Dani who played for West Ham United and classy midfielder ace Pauleta in their ranks.
Said Hack: "Poland will be the coach's (Santana's) final warm-up game before we play Iraq in the opening Confederations Cup (Group A) match on June 14."
Bafana will play another friendly against an overseas country at home on 30 May. Hack said that the opponent would be named as soon as the contracts were signed.
"We have arranged a top notch programme for Bafana and the technical team to help them fine tune the squad to do well at the Confederations Cup. We are leaving no stone unturned as this competition is being used as a dress rehearsal for the 2010 World Cup finals."
Bafana assistant coach Pitso Mosimane warned that Iraq will be no push over despite the expectations of the fans.
Warned Mosimane: "I have watched Iraq. They are technically very good and are not the Asian champions for nothing. They beat highly rated Australia to become Asian champions so we must be on our guard and not underestimate them."
Bafana are in an easier group with Oceanic champs New Zealand and Spain. The two top sides from the group qualify for the semi-finals.
In Group B are world champions Italy, Brazil, Egypt and the United States.