Bafana Bafana face boys from Brazil

Football
Click to follow
The Independent Online
South Africa made the most of their home advantage during the first two games of the Nelson Mandela Inauguration Challenge, beating Zambia and drawing with Argentina.

But the squad, affectionately known as Bafana Bafana - Zulu for "our boys" - faces its biggest challenge today against Brazil.

"We hope to have a great match and another victory," the Brazilian coach, Mario Zagallo, said as he and his players arrived at Johannesburg airport on Monday.

Two veterans of the 1994 World Cup - central defender Aldair and forward Bebeto - are in the line-up for today's match, along with a whole host of young players from Brazil's Olympic squad. For Brazil, the international friendly in Johannesburg will be a warm-up for Atlanta, and a chance to test Africa's best.

The South African coach, Clive Barker, meanwhile, was having personnel problems. A knee injury has kept out the Wolves striker Mark Williams, who scored both South Africa's goals in a 2-1 victory over Tunisia in the African Cup of Nations final in February. Other key men playing for overseas clubs may not make it home in time for the game.

South Africa, welcomed back to international football in 1992 after decades of isolation because of apartheid, are used to being the underdogs. The team has performed miracles to defend a trophy that commemorates South Africa's transition from white minority rule to democracy.

Today's game "is for President Mandela," Barker said. "What a night it will be if we beat Brazil."

The first Nelson Mandela Inauguration Challenge was played just hours after its namesake took the oath as the country's first black president in 1994. South Africa beat Zambia 2-1, scoring both goals after Mandela gave players a pep talk at half-time.

Comments