Santana changes game plan
Jaco van der Merwe
Keeping it lighthearted at training (Gallo)
Johannesburg – Bafana Bafana will throw caution to the wind when they take on the mighty Brazil on Thursday night at the Coca Cola Park stadium in the second semi-final of the Confederations Cup.
The soccer fraternity does not have much hope that Bafana will upset the South American champions. But South African coach Joel Santana believes his men could cause a huge upset by defeating Brazil.
Santana said on Wednesday that the instruction to his team, who have played rather carefully so far in the championship, was to take chances and to attack the South Americans.
His conservative approach in the group phase was aimed at ensuring a place in the knockout round. But Santana noted that the quality of Thursday night's opponents made it necessary for him to change his game plan.
"It is impossible to defend for 90 minutes against Brazil. You can in any case not win matches by only defending and especially not against them," said Santana.
"I will not be able to look supporters in the eye after the match if we didn't try to win. But if we lose, it will be in an honourable way."
This plan could, however, become undone early on if Bernard Parker is not declared fit. Bafana's premier striker will have to pass a fitness test after he sustained a knee injury on Wednesday.
"I am keeping my fingers crossed for Bernard because he is an upcoming star and very important to the team," said Santana.
Bafana Bafana's aggressive performance against Spain in their final group phase match made Brazil sit up and take notice. The five time world champions are expecting a tough physical attack from Santana’s charges.
The lean defender Matthew Booth challenged the Spaniards in the home team’s defeat. However, Santana said Bafana had to guard against “overdoing” their physical presence.
"We are not going to be violent. Our plan is rather to play good, watchable soccer. Every player has to watch his opponent and we will have to do better than in the match against Spain," Santana added.
Aaron Mokoena said the national U23 team's victory over Brazil at the Olympic Games in 2000 is motivating the team. The Bafana captain was part of the squad who defeated the highly-respected Brazilians back then with 3-1.
"To play against giants is exciting enough, but nothing comes close to the feeling of beating them," he said.