Brazil routed a South African side 5-0 at the mythical Orlando Stadium on Tuesday, but unfortunately for the South American giants it wasn’t their Confederations Cup semi-final opponents Bafana Bafana, but a local youth side.
Despite their age and inexperience, though, the Kaizer Chiefs under-17 team acquitted themselves admirably, achieving what Egypt had failed to do last week and that was to hold Brazil for a full 10 minutes without a breach of their defense.
The training game with Brazilian coach Dunga’s B team was held in front of empty stands at the handsomely renovated ancestral home of South African soccer in Soweto, where not far away lies the only street in the world boasting not one but two Nobel Peace Prize winners — Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The Kaizer Chief youths acquitted themselves well, but in the absence of Kaka, Robinho and Maicon, Dunga’s men maintained their 100 percent record since arriving on the continent.
More serious business awaits across this sprawling commercial capital at Ellis Park this evening when South Africa are out to cause what would be a huge upset by scuppering the titleholder’s defense of their crown won on a stormy night in Frankfurt four years ago.
Dunga, who captained his country when they played South Africa in 1997, has brought a squad brimming with quality, yet he respects the work done by compatriot Joel Santana and predecessor Carlos Alberto Parreira with the Confederation Cup hosts.
“South Africa are an emerging team, but we know they will give us a difficult test,” Dunga said. “They’re strong, quick and they will have the crowd behind them. But we’ll be well prepared. Brazil have a very strong squad, which helps in a tournament like this. Every player in the squad is a first-teamer.”
One man Dunga looks like having to do without is Juan, the Roma defender who picked up a leg injury in the 3-0 demolition of world champions Italy on Sunday. Juan had to be replaced in the 24th minute by Luisao.
Like the rest of the side, Inter defender Maicon is not falling into the trap of taking lightly a team ranked a yawning 67 places below them in FIFA’s rankings.
“We know South Africa, we’ve seen their games on television and they’re a very quick team,” Maicon said. “We need to be on our guard because they could give us a nasty surprise.”
Brazil captain Lucio agreed, the Bayern Munich back telling FIFA.com: “Yes, they’re very rapid and they’ll have the fans behind them too.”