South Africa play Uruguay on Wednesday in a must win match that could see the victor through to the second round. On an already emotional day for the hosts, Bafana Bafana must take risks if they're to come through tomorrow with the supporters Vuvezela's still honking.
On paper, there isn't really a chance for the hosts. South Africa, ranked 83rd in the world, square up to the 16th best team in Uruguay. Their opponents feature two of the best strikers playing in Europe at the moment - Luis Suarez, the Ajax goal machine, and Diego Forlan, who spearheaded Athletico Madrid's run to the Europa League final this season. Aaron Mokoena and the rest of the South African defence will need to display a disciplined performance to keep those two at bay.
The hosts were held back by a nervous first half display against Mexico, but were the more creative team after the break and it's only by showing this kind of insightful and imaginative performance that we'll be able to break down Uruguay.
Bafana Bafana will need to prove in this match that they have the desire to progress to the next round, for surely the hosts will be almost there if they achieve victory on Wednesday. Uruguay showed in their game against France that they're no push overs in this group and will be hard to break down.
We'll need to be defensively cautious if Diego Forlan plays in a more deeper role. I'm particularly worried that our back line will be dragged out of position and exposed if he does. We'll certainly need a more experienced defensive performance then we showed against Mexico. Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune bailed us out on more than one occasion in the first game.
That said, I think we can see some success when attacking South Africa down the flanks. Siphiwe Tshabalala seems to be in the form of his life at the moment and his red hot performance in the Mexico game was capped with a rocket of a goal. I loved his effort and commitment to the cause, a true match winner.
Wednesday's game takes place on the 34th anniversary of the Soweto uprising, Youth Day as it's known in South Africa. A poignant thought which will not be lost on the players as they seek to make history. The date of the game shows how far South Africa have come, once shunned by the international community now, all the signs point to the fact that a successful World Cup can be a force for good in the country.
My prediction for tomorrow's game ? I'm going for a 2-1 win. I'm looking for a performance full of confidence, verve and swagger. We'll be almost there if we get the result we need, and if we get out of our group and into the knockout stage.....anything can happen.
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