Bafana will feel the heat against Brazil
Brazil have named a full-strength team and are eager to put behind them an uncomfortable rebuilding period with two years to go till the hosting of the World Cup
A BRIGHT sunrise yesterday penetrated the dense smog that hovers above São Paulo - a city that seems to stretch forever - a day before Bafana Bafana's friendly international against Brazil.
It was clearly going to be a scorcher for the South Africans' final training session at the venue of tonight's game, the 67,000-seat Estadio do Morumbi, home of Sao Paulo FC.
And it's going to be hot on the field for Bafana too, against the five-time world champions and Fifa's 12th-ranked international side.
It might be Brazil's national day, and the game is part of a symbolic handover from the 2010 World Cup hosts to those of 2014, but don't expect too much charity from the Selecao on the field.
Brazil have named a full-strength team and are eager to put behind them an uncomfortable rebuilding period with two years to go till the hosting of the World Cup.
But not everyone in the world's fifth-largest country is satisfied with the work of coach Mano Menezes and the players.
The absence of Kaka and Ronaldinho from the team highlights its transitional nature.
South Africa have not lost by more than a goal against Brazil in three internationals, though all of those were at home.
The last meeting was the 2009 Confederations Cup semifinal clash, where Bafana matched the Selecao blow for blow until Dani Alves's 87th-minute free-kick.
New Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has brought a new-look side to Brazil and will hope the gamble won't backfire
The South African coaching staff watched a league game between Sao Paulo and Internacional at Estadio do Morumbi on Wednesday night, and were surprised at the largeness of the pitch.
This does not seem likely to force Igesund to change his mind on some of the fresh faces he intends starting. Orlando Pirates full-back Thabo Matlaba, who has one cap, is earmarked for the right wing in a 4-3-3 formation.
New caps Dean Furman and Dino Ndlovu were set to start in defensive midfield and at striker.
The new faces have brought a new energy to a young squad, but hopefully they won't be overwhelmed.
Their naivety internationally might just provide the raw confidence and hunger needed to give Brazil a go today.
Likely Bafana line-up: Itumeleng Khune, Siboniso Gaxa, Siyabonga Sangweni, Bongani Khumalo, Punch Masanamela, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Thulani Serero, Furman, Matlaba, Ndlovu, Siphiwe Tshabalala
ON TV: 8.45pm, live on SABC 1