Goal.com is at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium for tonight’s game between New Zealand and the hosts South Africa. This is a must-win encounter for both of the teams, with negative results in the first match meaning that they are in a tough spot in group A. New Zealand were beaten by Spain, while South Africa drew with Iraq.
Speaking to a few of the fans, it was clear that South Africa had optimistic support in the stands.
“Bafana have it all to do in this tournament, but three points in this game will put us that much closer to a semi-final spot. I want to see Pienaar starting from the first whistle, he can make the difference for the boys. I think a 2-0 score is possible,” said Ike, a black-jack dealer at nearby resort, Sun City.
Arthur, who has lived in Rustenburg for the last ten years, was the second person to bring up Bafana and Everton star Steven Pienaar, who only made a late appearance in the Iraq game. “Pienaar will score a goal and set another one up. They (New Zealand) were beaten 5-0 by Spain, but that will only make them hungrier for a victory here. Parker will also score to make it two or three for Bafana, and then we can hope for Booooo and Mokoena to hold the back line tight.”
We struggled to find many New Zealand fans, judging by the flags, but we did come across Steve, who moved to South Africa from New Zealand three years ago. “My heart is split in two. On one side I have my country of birth, and on the other, my new home. That is why I wrap the two flags together and support them both. I am supporting soccer and friendship.”
Steve was surrounded by South African fans, but they were happy to have their opposition support close by. “If New Zealand score we can buy him a drink, if not, he can buy us all drinks,” South African fan Rian said with a cheeky smile. “It will be a win for Bafana , but a close one, maybe 1-0 or 2-1.”
The fans are waiting for the whistle, and in a few hours all these fans will have a clearer picture of the destinies of New Zealand and South Africa in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Peter Pedroncelli, Goal.com