Moment of truth for Bafana
Johannesburg - It is game on as Bafana Bafana face their moment of truth when they meet tough-as-teak Uruguay at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Wednesday night in what promises to be a colossal second Group A clash. Kick-off is at 8.30pm.
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Both teams drew their opening group matches and victory will virtually propel the 2010 World Cup hosts into the second round for the first time in Bafana's history, while defeat would mean an uphill battle in the final group match against France in Bloemfontein on June 22.
Bafana have failed to get past the group stage at the 1998 World Cup in France and again in 2002 in South Korea.
But after that gutsy 1-1 draw against the highly regarded Mexico at a packed Soccer City last Friday in the opening Group A clash, the nation is waiting with baited breath and a new found belief in this new-look Bafana who are playing far better than their lowly 83rd world ranking suggests.
Uruguay were reduced to 10 men in the second half against France and managed to hold on for a 0-0 draw in a hard fought opener at Cape Towns Greenpoint Stadium in their Friday showdown.
Bafana head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who has guided Bafana to a stunning 13-match unbeaten run since taking charge last November, this week said the group was now wide open.
"Considering the quality of Mexico and the result against them, we know we are in this group right to the end."
Much will, however, depend on the likes of Steven Pienaar, who on Monday promised to come to the party against Uruguay, after an average performance against Mexico.
The English-based midfield playmaker admitted his legs were just not there after a tough English Premiership season. He also struggled in the last two pre-World Cup friendly matches - the 5-0 and 1-0 wins over Guatemala and Denmark respectively.
But Pienaar said he was determined to play off the fatigue and show why he is regarded as one of the best players in the Premiership.
He also said now that the game against Mexico was history, the nerves were under control and Bafana would be a lot better against Uruguay.
The key to beating Uruguay, however, is to make sure their Atletico Madrid star striker, Diego Forlan, is not given space.
Forlan was Man of the Match against France, has been in outstanding form this season for his Spanish club, and played a major role in helping Atletico win the Europa Cup when they defeated English side Fulham last month.
Bafana midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi, who sat on the bench for Fulham that night, will have an idea what to expect form the "Blond Bomber."
Forlan also gets plenty of support from co-striker Luis Suarez who plays for Ajax Amsterdam.
Uruguay will be minus midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, who was sent off in the second half against France, but will still be able to field a physically strong, imposing side with bags of skill.
They are ranked 16th in the world, and in midfield stars Alvaro Pereira, Diego Perez and in Sevilles Ignacio Gonzalez, have players with plenty of skills and tricks up their sleeves.
Bafana skipper Aaron Mokoena took responsibility for the goal against Mexico, but said: "We have learnt from and worked on our mistakes. We know where Uruguay are coming from and are ready."