Bafana prepare for Brazil showdown
5 September 2012
Kaizer Chiefs defender Siboniso Gaxa on Tuesday received a late call-up to the Bafana Bafana squad, which faces Brazil in a friendly international on Friday in Sao Paolo, because of a knee injury suffered by Anele Ngcongca.
The South African national team had already lost Steven Pienaar, Siyabonga Nomvethe and Edward Manqele to injuries in the build-up to the game, which takes place the Etadio do Morumbi on 7 September, Brazil's Independence Day.
The friendly also serves as a symbolic handing over of the World Cup reins from the 2010 hosts to 2014's host country.
All but three players were present at the first training session of new head coach Gordon Igesund at the CT Palmeiras grounds in Sao Paolo. Greece-based defender Bongani Khumalo and Dino Ndlovu, who plays in Israel, are expected to arrive only on Wednesday, while Ngcongca was unable to train.
Ndlovu has been allowed to travel by his club, Maccabi Haifa, despite recently suffering a concussion. He will be evaluated by the Bafana Bafana medical staff before joining the squad.
Discussing the injuries his squad has suffered, coach Gordon Igesund said: "This is just a bad luck in terms of injuries. We have been dealing with nothing but withdrawals since the announcement of the squad last Thursday.
"It is a blow for us to be losing players like this, but there's not much we can do. We have to soldier on.
"I have called up right back Siboniso Gaxa from Kaizer Chiefs to replace Anele and I expect him to fly out on Wednesday morning to be here in the afternoon."
Assessing the form of his squad, Igesund added: "This was my first training session and I was happy with what I saw. The players gave what I expected of them and the vibe was just great, even though some of them were slightly tired from playing over the weekend and the travel as well."
Goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, who ended a brief retirement from the international team to be part of the squad, said: "It's good to be back and having returned to the national team it was just a great training session. It was our first but I really enjoyed myself.
"It was more relaxed and we were able as players to enjoy from the beginning to the end."
Brazil vs South Africa
Brazil has played South Africa three times previously, with the five-time World Cup winners winning all three matches, but they have been far from pushovers, with the Brazilians scoring six goals to Bafana's three in those games.
The countries met for the first time in Johannesburg in April 1996 when Brazil were world champions and South African the champions of Africa.
In a thrilling contest, Bafana Bafana led 2-0 at half-time on goals by Phil Masinga and Doctor Khumalo. Three second half goals from Flavio, Rivaldo and Bebeto, whose winner came just four minutes from time, though, gave A Seleção a 3-2 victory.
The following December, the teams faced off in Johannesburg again. The famed striking partnership of Romario and Bebeto gave the Brazilians a 2-0 lead before a 77th minute goal from Helman Mkhelele reduced the deficit to 2-1.
2009 Confederations Cup
The most recent meeting between the side came in the 2009 Confederations Cup, once more in Johannesburg. An absorbing semi-final contest was decided only three minutes from time when substitute Dani Alves struck for Brazil.
They went on to lift the title with a 3-2 win over the United States, who had upset European champions, Spain, 2-0 in the semi-finals.South Africa then went down 3-2 to the Spaniards in extra time in the playoff for third place. The following year, Spain were crowned World Cup champions.
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