SOUTH AFRICA VS URUGUAY, IT’S TSHABALALA AGAINST FORLAN
Bafana Bafana will aim to plant its feet firmly in the battle for qualification into the next round of the on going World Cup when it files out against Uruguay today. The host would aim to improve on her last game against Mexico by correcting the flaws that allowed for the equalising goal a few minutes to the end of the match.
The team is aware how dangerous the attacking line of Uruguay led by Diego Forlan could be on a good day.
But Siphiwe Tshabalala, the scorer of Bafana's lone goal last Friday, says the team is equal to the task and warned Uruguay to be ready for war. “A win against Uruguay will virtually seal our passage into the second round and make the nation even prouder,” Tshabalala said.
Former champion, Uruguay and France also have one point after the first series of Group A matches following a 0-0 in Cape Town draw that never reached great heights. “Uruguay will be in trouble if we carry on where we left off against the Mexicans,” said Tshabalala, referring to a much-improved second half Bafana's performance.
The midfielder credited Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira for his remarkable turnaround in fortunes, saying the Brazilian grandfather had given him confidence.
“My form has improved so much since the coach returned last November and took us to Brazil and Germany for training camps. My fitness has never been greater, nor my self belief.” But the star said media talk of a transfer to Europe fuelled by comments from chief's founder, Kaizer Motaung, was premature and his mind was focused only on the World Cup.
“I am not thinking about my future at club level. I am enjoying every moment of my first World Cup and all that counts now is victory over Uruguay,” he stressed.
Centre back, Bongani Khumalo, who endured a torrid first 45 minutes against a livewire Mexican attack, said the thought of facing star Uruguay striker, Diego Forlan, was inspiring rather than haunting him. “Diego is a world-class footballer, but the whole point of playing in this tournament is to test yourself against the best,” explained the defender, who plays for national champions, SuperSport United.
“The nerves we suffered against Mexico because of the special occasion have settled and there is no fear of Forlan or Uruguay,” he said of a country that won 4-3 and drew 0-0 in previous clashes with South Africa”.
By loading her defence so heavily against Les Bleus in Cape Town, Uruguay perhaps betrayed her intentions for this match when the team has to record a victory against Bafana Bafana to sustain her challenge for a place in the last16.
Uruguay is unlikely to sit deep in defence again and launch attacks, almost exclusively on the counter.
Against France, the superb Abou Diaby, Franck Ribery and even Jeremy Toulalan from his holding midfield position, were allowed to run at the heart of Uruguay's defence.
When they did switch to attack, the irrepressible striker, Diego Forlan, was the only player to present France with any credible challenge.
But Manager Oscar Tabarez is unlikely to field such a defence-minded formation when the team play against the host country in Pretoria.
Although, Group A is wide open following two draws, Uruguay and France did lose some ground on Bafana and Mexico who, at least, scored a goal each at Soccer City.
Having been able to watch just the opening exchanges of Bafana's match against Mexico, Tabarez's assessment of the team's next opponent was rather limited.
“We respect South Africa, she has some great virtues,” said Tabarez.
Forlan and goalkeeper Fernando Muslera also revealed limited knowledge of Bafana Bafana. “They are very fast, it should be a tough game,” said Forlan.
Muslera is unperturbed by the potential threat on or off the field at Loftus.
“South Africa has players who are really fast. It will be tough. It should also be a good occasion. I don't think the vuvuzelas are a nuisance, they create a nice atmosphere. Too much is being said of the vuvuzelas,” he said.
South Africa and Uruguay's clash at Loftus Versfeld, the 50,000-seat Pretoria home of Super 14 rugby union champions, Northern Bulls, while France faces Mexico the following evening in northern city Polokwane.