Nunes backs Bafana to win - Defender new to SA football
BAFANA Bafana's newest defender, Ricardo Nunes, admitted he knows little about his team-mates, but he remains confident of the side's chances when they square up against Poland in a friendly international in Warsaw tomorrow.
Nunes, who was born in Johannesburg and moved to Portugal when he was eight years old, is now based in Slovakia where he turns out for top-flight club MSK Zilina.
"I didn't know much about South African football because we don't watch it on television in Slovakia," Nunes said on Tuesday after he linked up with the Bafana squad in Warsaw.
"However, I have checked some action on the Internet.
"There are lots of very skillful players and some of my current club team-mates are from the African continent and they speak highly of the level of the game in South Africa.
"Now that I am here, I can't wait to mingle with my new national team-mates. I am very excited to be here."
Nunes, 26, had hoped for an earlier call-up to the South African squad, but he had to tie up some details with global governing body Fifa before he could be available for selection.
"I was very happy when I heard that I had been called up to the national team of my birthplace South Africa," he said.
"This is a very special moment in my life. I have been waiting for a while for this, but I had to sort out my papers first with Fifa before I could accept the call-up."
While he expected a battle against their hosts, Nunes believed Bafana had the beating of Poland, who are 22 places above the SA in the world rankings.
He said he had been motivated after watching the national side play to a 1-0 defeat against global giants Brazil in a friendly international in Sao Paulo last month.
"They (Poland) are playing at home, which makes them very dangerous, but after seeing highlights of South Africa against Brazil I am confident that we have what it takes to beat them."
History does not favour Bafana
BAFANA Bafana's record against European opposition in Europe makes for dismal reading, with history counting against Gordon Igesund's side as they prepare to tackle Poland in Warsaw tomorrow.
The 19 previous matches against European sides on their own continent have yielded just one victory to go with 15 defeats. In fact, Bafana have lost all of their last 11 matches that they have played against teams from Europe in their own back yard, a run dating back 11 years.
What's more, they have only managed a paltry nine goals in their 19 games and none in their last seven matches.
It puts into perspective what awaits Igesund and his team as they take on a talented but under-achieving Polish side.
Bafana's single win came against minnows Malta, usually regarded as whipping boys by the rest of Europe and who generally sit above the 150 mark in the Fifa world rankings.
That was achieved thanks to a late goal from Thabo Mngomeni in May 2000, but since then it has been all defeats.
It took five years after readmission for Bafana to play their first game in Europe, but boosted by their 1996 Africa Cup of Nations victory, they suddenly became an attractive opponent for top Euro sides.
Their first match was a 2-1 loss to England at Old Trafford in May 1997, Phil Masinga scoring for Bafana, but Rob Lee and Ian Wright leading the English to the win. There followed matches against France (1-2) and Germany (0-3) in the same year that served as the build-up to the 1997 Confederations Cup.
They have managed three draws, all against Scandinavian opposition, with the most famous of these being at the 1998 World Cup when Benni McCarthy netted against Denmark in France as the teams finished at 1-1.
They drew again with Denmark in a friendly a year later by the same scoreline and have managed a 1-1 stalemate with tiny Iceland ahead of that World Cup in France.
Their last match in Europe against European opposition was also against Iceland in October 2009, a depressing 1-0 loss that was the final game in charge for Brazilian coach Joel Santana.
Put into context then, victory in Poland tomorrow night would therefore be a massive achievement for Igesund and his men.