Bafana running out of time

Bafana Bafana have less than a year to prove themselves.

Bafana Bafana have less than a year to prove themselves.

Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke admitted yesterday that it would be tough going for Bafana when they compete against some of the best countries in world soccer at the Confederations Cup in South Africa next June.

Bafana will have either world champions Italy or newly crowned European champions Spain in their group when the Confederations Cup - a dress rehearsal for the 2010 World Cup finals - begins next June.

Italy and the six continental champions plus hosts South Africa will compete in the tournament that is staged a year before the World Cup in order to test the ability of the host country ahead of staging the biggest soccer event in the world.

Fifa is concerned by the fact that Bafana are on the verge of not qualifying for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola but Valcke stressed that it would not be a total train smash.

Said the Fifa boss at a round table meeting with the media yesterday: "Bafana have less than a year to do it before the kickoff of the Confederations Cup."

Valcke said that South Africa were in a different position to both France and Germany before those countries hosted the World Cup in 1998 and 2006 respectively.

"The only similarity was that both France and Germany were under pressure to perform. But the difference is that both countries had powerful squads and, in the end, France won the World Cup in 1998 and Germany finished third in 2006.

"With the case of South Africa, there is doubt the team will get past the first round."

Valcke pointed out that Fifa staged a successful Euro 2008 despite the fact that joint hosts Austria and Switzerland were knocked out after the first round. But hopefully Bafana will improve in the next 12 months. - Sapa