Upbeat South Africa plot downfall of Spain
Upbeat South Africa are confident of becoming only the second country this year to defeat world champions Spain when they meet in a friendly on Tuesday.
"We should not underestimate ourselves," stressed coach Gordon Igesund ahead of the match at the 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium in Soweto, where Spain defeated the Netherlands 1-0 to win the 2010 World Cup.
"South Africa can defend, keep the ball, knock it around, and entertain -- our objective is to win this match," he told reporters.
"I am telling the nation that we are going to be competitive against Spain. This match will reveal how far we have come since I took over."
Igesund succeeded sacked Pitso Mosimane in September last year, promising a dramatic improvement in the results of under-achieving Bafana Bafana (The Boys).
But 12 victories, three draws and nine losses later, he remains in charge despite failing to reach either of the targets set by the national football association.
Told to make the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals, the hosts won just one of four games and lost on penalties to Mali in the quarter-finals.
The second mandate -- a place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil -- also proved beyond Igesund with minnows Ethiopia emerging shock winners of their second round qualifying group.
But star-saturated Spain, boasting 12 wins, three draws, one loss and a 36-11 goals record this year in all matches, hold no fears for Bafana players.
"We will take the game to Spain and show them what we have," promised midfielder Dean Furman from English second-tier club Doncaster Rovers.
"They are the world champions and have a squad packed with stars from great clubs, but we are not afraid of anyone."
South Africa prepared for La Roja (The Reds) by fielding an all-local team in a 3-0 away victory over weak neighbours Swaziland on an artificial pitch .
Spain, whose sole reverse this year was a 3-0 hiding from hosts Brazil in the Confederations Cup final, won 2-1 in Equatorial Guinea en route to Johannesburg.
Coach Vicente del Bosque signed a two-year contract extension until 2016 last week -- his reward for masterminding the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euro championship triumphs.
He included seven players who began World Cup final in his squad but chose only midfielder Xabi Alonso to start against Equatorial Guinea.
Alonso, one of four Real Madrid stars called up, retired injured before half-time in Malabo, but Del Bosque said it was a precautionary move.
"It was just a knock -- nothing serious," Del Bosque, 62, told reporters. "It is good to be back in South Africa because we have great memories of this country."
The friendly could feature midfielders Siphiwe Tshabalala and Andres Iniesta, scorers of the first and last goals at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Tshabalala put Bafana ahead in the drawn tournament opener against Mexico and Iniesta snatched the only goal of the final with four minutes of extra time left.
Spain have won the three previous games between the countries, with the most recent success a 3-2 win in Rustenburg to secure third place at the 2009 Confederations Cup.
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