bafana must avenge 2005 hiding

ICELAND are ranked well below Bafana Bafana on the Fifa rankings, but the South Africans' inept displays in recent matches do not suggest they will beat the Icelanders tonight.

ICELAND are ranked well below Bafana Bafana on the Fifa rankings, but the South Africans' inept displays in recent matches do not suggest they will beat the Icelanders tonight.

Bafana Bafana are out of sorts and that's a fact. As the hosts of the 2010 World Cup, we are worried about their doleful display.

Joel Santana's charges, who are ranked 73rd, engage 96th-ranked Iceland in an international friendly at Reykjavik, hoping to erase the bad memories of August 2005. They were thumped 4-1 by the Icelanders and that defeat could still come back to haunt them tonight, given South Africa's disappointing form.

Kickoff is at 8.10pm South African time.

The daggers are already out for Santana, who has led the national team to a record seven defeats in eight matches.

Santana said he was not worried about his future with Bafana Bafana going into this game: "I am not afraid for my job because I have the backing of the leadership of the Safa."

Said Aaron Mokoena, the team's captain: "We need to get a win this time round and avenge the defeat by Iceland in 2005. The team has been playing well, but the most important thing is to get goals. As players we really want a win and it would be great to get it against Iceland."

Mokoena is one of the only surviving Bafana Bafana members from the team that played Iceland in 2005, when Delron Buckley scored the only goal for the visitors. Stuart Baxter was at the helm at the time.

The other surviving member of the 2005 team is Bevan Fransman, who came on for Mokoena. He will be chasing his 95th Bafana Bafana cap tonight. Mokoena has also captained Bafana Bafana a record 51 times.

Some of the Safa bosses are angered by Santana's defensive strategy. For the two matches against Norway and Iceland, Safa has spent more than R3million in travelling, accommodation and allowances for the players and officials.

They may have finished at the bottom of Group 9 of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers in Europe, but Iceland's recent record is not as bad as that of Bafana Bafana.

Led by Eidur Gudjohnsen, Veiga Gunnarsson and Heidar Helguson, Iceland beat Georgia 3-1 and drew 1-1 with Norway and Slovakia in their past three games.

Santana will be looking to the likes of Mabhuti Khenyeza, Bernard Parker, Katlego Mphela and Teko Modise to save his salary of R1,4million.

After tonight's match, Bafana Bafana will play against Japan and Jamaica next month.

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