heat is on for bafana

BAFANA Bafana are under pressure to regain the confidence of South Africans, many of whom are concerned about the team's performance in the build-up to the 2010 World Cup.

BAFANA Bafana are under pressure to regain the confidence of South Africans, many of whom are concerned about the team's performance in the build-up to the 2010 World Cup.

Tomorrow's game against Germany in Leverkusen at 8.45pm is a perfect platform for coach Joel Santana to start turning the team into real world-beaters.

The football superpower is fourth on the Fifa rankings, with Bafana Bafana a disappointing 73rd. So, playing against a team with stars like Michael Ballack and Lukas Podolski will give South Africans an idea of the team's readiness for the World Cup.

The game comes a month after Bafana Bafana were embarrassed 3-1 by 14th-ranked Serbia in Atteridgeville. But captain Aaron Mokoena has warned against using the Serbia game to judge the ability of the team.

"It's always not good to lose, but we played well against Serbia. The coach used a different team in the second half to give all the players a chance.

"Germany are one of the top teams in the world but we are not worried about their big players. Some of us play against them on a regular basis at club level.

"The two games against Germany and Ireland are important in helping the players gain more international experience ahead of the World Cup. Our plan is to do well in both games," said Mokoena, who is captain at Portsmouth.

Belgium-based defender Anele Ngcongca looks set to get his first Bafana Bafana cap in the absence of injured Matthew Booth. With Itumeleng Khune also injured, veteran Brian Baloyi should start in goal ahead of Rowen Fernandez.

Santana is spoilt for choice with experienced campaigners like Siyabonga Nkosi, Mabhuti Khenyeza and Bevan Fransmann available this time. He also has tried and tested players like Steven Pienaar, Bernard Parker, Benson Mhlongo and Simphiwe Tshabalala.

Amajita play Germany's Under-20s in Hamburg at 3.30pm tomorrow.

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