Cape Town - Bafana Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune is relishing the prospect of facing Barcelona and Brazil forward Neymar.
Neymar and Khune will come face-to-face again when South Africa hosts Brazil in an international friendly match at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 5 March 2014.
Kick-off is at 19:00.
The two players met for the first time in Sao Paolo two years ago. The home side won the match 1-0 from a late Hulk goal, with Neymar failing to get one past Khune.
“I am relishing the prospect of meeting him again. I want to foil him, that is my aim this time around,” said the acrobatic goal-minder who will captain Bafana Bafana in this historic meeting.
One of the most skillful players in the world, Neymar has recently returned from injury and is now playing for his club again and could be a thorn in the Bafana Bafana defence.
The lanky striker scored a gem of a goal at the weekend when Barcelona walloped Rayo 6-0 at Nou Camp.
Neymar won the Golden Boot Award at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup which the home side won when they beat reigning world champions Spain 3-0 with Neymar scoring the second goal.
“Ï am very excited to face Neymar again, and I want to believe the rest of the players are too. He tried his best to be on the score sheet in our last match when we met but I thwarted him now and again.
“I would like to believe he still has a score to settle with me in particular and try to beat me but I am prepared for the battle. I want to ensure that he doesn't have that joy. We must just do our homework and half the battle will be won,” said Khune of the upcoming Soccer City battle on 5 March 2014.
“But on the other hand, it is not just about Neymar because the Brazilian team has a galaxy of world class stars who play for the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and others. So we have to be on guard for the entire 90 minutes as they have defenders like David Luiz, Marcelo and Dani Alves who can also score goals from anywhere.”
Khune will be playing against Brazil for the third time. The first time was in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa. The second time was in an international friendly match in Sao Paolo three years later.
”This should be a titanic match. We are really looking forward to welcoming Brazil on our shores again and surely people should just come in numbers and enjoy this game.
“On my part, I am hoping for third time lucky since we lost the last two encounters. Players and fans alike are excited and talking about this match which gives us a morale booster. We have to use the same mentality that we had for the Spain match if we are to get a positive result against what I consider the best team in the world,” said South Africa’s No 1 keeper.
”But that is not to say we are going to be complacent or big-headed having beaten Spain. It is a different match, different set of players and perhaps different styles of play but we are confident that we can do the business. I am almost certain though that they saw our match with Spain and will come here with more will to win because they know what to expect, and they are fine-tuning their squad in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup which they are hosting. So they would not want to come and lose. But we must stick to our game plan and even go the extra mile than we did against Spain because Brazil is a tough side to beat. “
Tickets for this match are already on sale at Computicket, Shoprite, Checkers and Shoprite/Checkers stores countrywide and Khune has urged the fans to come out in numbers.
“It will be great to see many fans, many more than those who turned out to watch us beat Spain. The fans were outstanding with their support when we beat Spain and we believe they can do it again,” concluded the Bafana Bafana captain.
Tickets are going for R50 for the top tier; R200 for the middle tier and R100 for the bottom tier.