South Africa - New Zealand

Rainbow Nation is under a cloud. Team is feeling the pressure after failing to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since the end of apartheid. They were playing WC qualifications, but results counted only for Cup of Nations, because Bafana Bafana directly qualified for World Championship as the host country. Only six points from seven games in group made a negative atmosphere in the country. Now, qualification for the semi-finals on Confederations Cup is the minimum target. Defence-minded coach Joel Santana is unpopular with the media, while two very important players, Benny McCarthy and Nasief Morris are moved from the squad ‘cause arguing with Santana. The hosts took only a point from Iraq game and Santana is accused again for defensive tactic against outsiders. Another draw would put them in the clueless position, facing the prospect of having to beat Spain to reach the semi-finals. Steven Pienaar is expected to start and to add some much-needed creativity to the side. Skipper Aaron Mokoena should recover from a shin problem.

New Zealand was considered as the weakest team on the competition, even before it started. Opening game didn’t change that impression. The All Whites are winless in their last six matches, with five defeats and one draw (Botswana, 0-0 on the road). They have lost all seven of their Confederations Cup games, scoring two goals and conceding 22. Coach Ricki Herbert says his side has a "burning desire" to win at least their first point in the finals of one Fifa competition. In the previous game, against Spain, squad managed to concede four goals for 24 minutes! Fortunately, Spanish side was satisfied with that, otherwise would be a real shame. The biggest problem for New Zealand is they used to play against teams like Thailand, Fiji, or New Caledonia. They planed to attack Spain(!?), before that in friendly scored three times against Italy (defeat 3-4), simply haven’t learnt to respect stronger. I expect from them attacking attitude, again. The main problem will be the “rusty” defence line, this time even weaker, without the skipper Ryan Nelsen.

South Africa is a big favorite (again). Santana will try to balance between his understanding of football logic and fans’ expectations about the first eleven. Usually, it means a big problem. They will attack, but New Zealand won’t defend. My choice is goals, before home win. Sunderlands offer 1.95, Expekt and the others 1.75. Over.


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