Bafana’s Nthethe eager to face Brazil

19 February

Bafana Bafana defender Thabo Nthete says he cannot wait to take on five-time world champions Brazil in a friendly international at the FNB Stadium on 5 March. The match has been given the theme of “Celebrating 20 Years of Freedom”.

It will be a first ever meeting with Brazil for Nthethe, who was not part of the team that narrowly lost 1-0 in Sao Paulo in September 2012 in coach Gordon Igesund’s first game in charge of the South African national team.

‘Every player’s dream’

“It is every player’s dream to play against the best, and I guess I am no different,” Nthethe said in a statement on Tuesday. “I have not played against Brazil, and given a chance on the day I will certainly do my best.

“I watched them against Bafana Bafana in the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup and in Sao Paolo two years ago, and it has been my wish to play against them.

“If I am selected, it will be like a dream come true, more so coming on the back of having faced World and European champions Spain.

“I am really looking forward to this match,” added the former Bloemfontein Celtic captain, who recently made a move to Mamelodi Sundowns.

A blockbuster

<p Nthete, who has been capped 19 times for Bafana Bafana, is expecting a blockbuster of a match, in a similar vein to November’s shock victory over world number one Spain.

“It is going to be a tough day, but that is what every player savours, playing against the best in the business,” he reckoned.

“They are an all-round team, very strong in defence and a sleek strike-force, so it calls for us to work as a team and be at our best.”

The sternest of tests

The hard tackling defender said the match would be the sternest of tests for most of the players, especially after the shock win against La Roja (Spain).

“I don’t think we will disappoint our legion of fans on the night as I believe coach Igesund has selected a very competitive squad that can hold its own against many teams. I have confidence that we will do well. We just hope our fans will come in full force to support us in this match,” Nthethe concluded.

Tickets

Tickets for the match cost R50 for the top tier, R200 for the middle tier and R100 for the bottom tier. They can be purchased at Computicket, Shoprite, Checkers and Shoprite/Checkers stores countrywide.

Past matches

Before their match in Sao Paulo in 2012, Bafana Bafana had played Brazil three times previously, losing all three contests games, but only by a goal on each occasion.

The teams shared a memorable clash in Johannesburg in 1996, when Brazil were world champions and Bafana the champions of Africa. Incredibly, South Africa led 2-0 at the break after goals from Phil Masinga and Doctor Khumalo.

However, Brazil pulled one back in the 56th minute through Flavio and 12 minutes later the teams were level at 2-2 thanks to a goal from Rivaldo. Just four minutes from time, Bebeto found a winner for the world champions.

 

In 1997 the teams again met in Johannesburg, with Brazil taking the honours 2-1.

Almost 12 years later the teams clashed in the semi-finals of the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup, once more in Johannesburg. A very tight clash was finally settled in the 88th minute when substitute Dani Alves netted for the Brazilians with a stunning free kick.

SAinfo reporter and South African Football Association