WORLD CUP 2010: Meet South Africa's Platinum Stars

06 June 2010 10:15
The Platinum Stars may have been dragged from their sun loungers for a practice match with England but Fabio Capello has been warned they won't be coasting.

Former Tottenham defender Mbulelo Mabizela plans to 'get stuck in' against Wayne Rooney and goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini has promised to extend Frank Lampard's misery on the penalty spot.

The Phokeng club are abuzz over England's visit to their shiny new Moruleng Stadium, with its neat Meccano-like stands and four aluminium floodlight pylons which tower above the high veldt of South Africa. 

Look out for Sportsmail's live updates on England's practice match against Platinum Stars from 3pm Back from the coast: the Sun City team have been on holiday, so it will be a verybad sign if England struggle in their practice meeting

'It's a proper game for us,' said Mabizela, known as Old John, or simply OJ. 'We will not go easy on them. We'll get stuck in, believe me. The crowd and the people who come will expect a game. They will want entertainment and it will be a competitive game.'

The Platinum Stars finished third from bottom of South Africa's 16-team Premier League last season and returned from their close season two weeks ago to prepare for the game, which will be watched by 12,000 local fans for free.

  'England have been training and playing and they are super fit, so really we don't stand a chance,' said Mabizela, who captained his country at 20 and is the most famous in the Stars team.

He scored on his Spurs debut in 2003 but alcohol problems led to him leaving after only seven games, first to Norway and then back to South Africa. His problems persisted with a drink-drive charge and then drug ban. His contract was terminated by the Stars, but they relented to take him back.

Recent good form sparked talk of an international return for the 29-year-old but he was not picked for the World Cup.

'I had a good start at Spurs but it was too short and that's something I'll always look back on with regret,' said Mabizela.

'I've made a lot of mistakes in my personal life, things I'd rather not elaborate upon, and that was the reason I had to leave Spurs.

Platinum king: Former Spurs defender Mabizela wants to prove he can still cut it against the Premier League's best

'When I came back to South Africa I went for help, I got help and I'm still being helped. I wouldn't say I'm okay but I feel I'm going forward now. Platinum Stars have really helped me and at the moment I feel that I've really moved on. I am ready to move on with my career, even possibly back to Europe and I'd like to play for Bafana Bafana (South Africa) again.'

We'll test Roo: Stars coach Steve Komphela

Most of the Platinum Stars were delighted to be recalled from their break but two foreign strikers, Colombia's Luis Renteria and Japan's Norikazu Murakami, have not made it back.

Striker Henrico Botes was holidaying in his native Namibia when the call came. Goalkeeper Kapini turned down the chance to play for Zimbabwe in a friendly against Brazil to face England.

'I couldn't miss this opportunity,' said Kapini.

'I was so excited, I couldn't believe it. I am going to play against Steven Gerrard, David James, Wayne Rooney and all those great players in the England squad.

'You have to play with the mind of your opponent and I'll do that against England. If there's a penalty, I hope Lampard takes it. I always know when he takes a penalty where it is going.'

Enthusiasm is all over the club. 'It is a massive issue for everyone to play a team like England in our stadium,' said Goodman Cumming, one of the coaching staff.

'Football is huge in this area. Manchester United are the team of the moment. We were really bitter when Chelsea won the Premier League. People were literally crying. Now we have Wayne Rooney and David Beckham coming here and everybody will want to come and see them.'

Grassroots: England visit Moruleng Stadium and, below, the dressing room where Fabio Capello will deliver his final World Cup warm-up pre-match team talk

England will have no complaints about the pitch. It looked in perfect condition on Sunday, as a lizard scurried across it and workers painted the car park bays ahead of the game.

The Platinum Stars play at either the Moruleng Stadium or the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, where England will play their World Cup opener on Saturday against the USA.

Spain, Egypt and New Zealand trained here in last year's Confederations Cup. Today England will drive across the baked red earth - past goats, pigs and chickens - to take on the Platinum Stars.

 Click here to sign up for Sportsmail's daily World Cup email'Flying' Barry is grounded by Capello: Fabio won't risk fit-again ace for USA openerSafety first: Stampede has England fearing for fans ahead of final friendlyEngland v USA ref Carlos Eugenio Simon had six-week 'corruption' banMy Dad is top of the crocks! King's knees are so bad he can't even play with his sonWe're just all over the place with these balls, says USA keeper Howard


Source: Daily_Mail

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