South Africa host Poland in Johannesburg, as the Europeans get a taste of the World Cup hosts in a friendly.
Bafana Preparing For The Festival Of Champions
Bafana Bafana regained some of their pride when they scored a last-gasp 2-1 win over Norway in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge played at the newly renovated Royal Bafokeng Stadium recently, but they were soon brought down to earth by another European side when Portugal comfortably beat them 2-0.
This game against Poland gives Bafana a second bite at the cherry, as the European nation comes to South Africa with only one week to go before the host nation open the Confederations Cup tournament with a clash against Asian champions Iraq. Confidence in the camp has been high, with many of the players coming out and stating that they believe a semi final spot is within range.
Santana will use this final match to regulate his tactics and make any last minute changes to the squad that will most likely take the pitch in just over a week against Iraq. The hosts will count on home advantage, and as a weapon they will be able to use during the tournament and next year as well, Bafana will be hoping that the partisan crowd will make all the difference.
Poland Hoping To Book A Return Flight
Poland, coached by veteran Dutchman Leo Beenhakker, will provide a stern test of Bafana Bafana’s tactical and physical prowess and should Santana’s team manage a victory against the Europeans, it would be a huge confidence boost ahead of the Confederations Cup.
Poland are currently doing well in their World Cup qualifying situation, coming third in European group 3, with only three points separating them from the top spot and a game in hand over Northern Ireland in first position. They have a good chance of qualifying from the group and making the trip to South Africa next year for the global event, and this will be a great opportunity to get a feel of the weather, stadia and playing conditions.
Beenhakker has called-up Jakub Wawrzyniak, a controversial addition after the Pole had recently been facing legal trouble over the use of banned substances after failing two doping tests in a row. The reason the defender was included is that the Polish FA never received any official documenting on why he should not join the rest of the national team in South Africa.
After the squad was reduced to the regulation 23 players, Bafana lost the defensive experience of Nasief Morris, while already unfortunate enough to have Surprise Moriri and Lucas Thwala out through injury. Teko Modise is trying to shake off an injury ahead of the match.
Possible team: Khune, Booth, Gaxa, Masilela, Davids, Mokoena, Sibaya, Pienaar, Nkosi, Mashego, Parker.
A big noticeable change in the squad is the loss of Artur Boruc and Jakub Blaszczykowski. Boruc was left out of the national team , while Blaszczykowski was not selected due to a recent injury. Ireneusz Jelen and Euzebiusz Smolarek will be unavailable for Poland's game against South Africa due to injury.
Possible team: Fabiański, Wasilewski, Dudka, Zewłakow, Krzynowek, Lewandowski, Tralka, Guerreiro, Peszko, Nowak, Saganowski.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bernard Parker has now scored five goals for the South African national team and this youngster could go on to be a great striker for Bafana for many years to come, replacing Benni McCarthy in the process. He is one of the few players in the Bafana squad who have shown a prolific scoring ability.
Roger Guerreiro is always a threat when he is on the pitch. The Brazil-born attacking midfielder has three goals for Poland in thirteen appearances, and his flair and technique will be useful against the South Africans.
South Africa are full of confidence ahead of the Confederations Cup, and they are desperate to make the most of this last game before the competition, but Poland will be no pushovers, and a win by one goal seems likely.
South Africa 1-0 Poland
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com