Josephs: Do not write us off
Johannesburg - Passion from their 12th man - the Bafana Bafana supporters - will drive the national team at next month’s Soccer World Cup finals.
That was the opinion of Bafana goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs after the players went through a series of tests, which included checking heart rates, blood pressure, speed and fitness at the Johannesburg College of Education on Friday.
Josephs, who has been with the squad during the month long training camp in Brazil in March and recently the three week camp in Germany, said he was overwhelmed by the reception the team received on returning from Germany last weekend.
“The supporters will play a massive role during the opening match against Mexico at Soccer City on June 11," said the Orlando Pirates star.
"The euphoria surrounding Bafana since we came home has been incredible. I reckon Mexico will crumble under the noise of 90 000 vuvuzelas when we play them.”
Josephs said the prophets of doom writing off Bafana, who slipped to a 90th place in the FIFA world rankings this month, will be eating their words.
“Do not write us off. Apart from getting our passionate fans behind us against Mexico and in the other group matches against Uruguay and France, the players will surprise everyone. We are not going to make up numbers or go out in the first round.”
Josephs said the spirit had been lifted after the two camps where bonds have been forged between the players and head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.
“We have worked really hard. We will be one of the fittest teams at the World Cup and believe me we are determined to make the country proud.”
Josephs, who is at present the number two choice after Kaizer Chiefs' Itumeleng Khune in Parreira’s pecking order, said the World Cup was not about individuals:
“All the keepers are close friends but at the same time there is a fierce competitive edge at training. But, at the end of the day, I will keep working and support Itumeleng and others in the squad. We are here for the good of Bafana and our country.”
His Pirates team-mate Lucas Thwala said the players had benefited from the two training camps.
“We are a small team physically compared to other nations so we have learnt to play to our strengths which is keeping possession and keeping our shape,” said the sturdy defender.
Chiefs midfield ace Reneilwe Letsholonyane admitted to feeling butterflies with just over a month to go before kick-off.
“I am a little nervous. But the team is starting to take shape. We are now in the final stages of putting together the finishing touches.
"I enjoyed the camps in Brazil and Germany but I am happy to be home. After all, there is no place like home to prepare and be among our supporters.”
Parreira begins the business end of his preparations at Milpark on Sunday morning.