Bafana prepare Mexican feast
Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana are hoping to receive another incredible show of support when they kick off the 2010 Soccer World Cup against Mexico at Soccer City on Friday afternoon.
The host nation has been in a frenzy over the past week as the realisation of a dream that has been manifesting since 2004 edges ever closer.
Carlos Alberto Parreira has admitted his men have been overwhelmed by South Africans who have united behind the team in an unbelievable way.
And to repay the show of support, the Brazilian expects his side to outplay the Mexicans in front of 94 000 spectators in Soweto.
"I believe if you want to qualify for the second round you have to do something special and for us that would mean in the technical and skills aspects of the game," he said.
"We cannot beat France, Mexico or Uruguay in a physical struggle. My boys have to play well against them with the ball on the ground. This is our big strength. That is what I want the South African team to believe in."
Parreira is expected to play a 4-2-3-1, with Katlego Mphela leading the line. While he has suggested that he might need to shuffle his pack, the former World Cup winner is likely to start with the team that played against Denmark - with the only changes coming in the full-back positions.
Siboniso Gaxa is expected to replace Anele Ngcongca at right back, while Lucas Thwala will make way for Tsepo Masilela on the opposite flank.
Javier Aguirre, meanwhile, has kept Bafana guessing by altering his personnel and formations on a regular basis. South Africa assistant coach Pitso Mosimane admitted: "You have to play it close hey, you can't open yourself up. If you are going to play too open, Mexico will kill you.
"So you are facing a Mexico side that is not afraid. They are not afraid to throw men forward and that makes them dangerous."
Aguirre believes Bafana, who are enjoying a 12-game unbeaten run, will be tough to overcome as hosts. And striker Guillermo Franco agrees: "We know that Bafana Bafana are a good team and they will make things difficult for us during the game."
However, the West Ham United ace added: "We are here to win and this is a great opportunity for us to beat Bafana Bafana.
"I believe that our team is very strong and will do well. Playing in the World Cup is a blessing from God because not every player can feature in the tournament."
El Tri have no selection concerns going into the game as captain Rafael Marquez has recovered from a leg injury and Franco has shaken off a muscle complaint.
The Mexicans will be severely out-numbered support-wise at Soccer City, as South Africans have planned to turn out in yellow and have refused to do the traditional Mexican wave on Friday.