South Africa face more pain in Europe
Tradition suggests 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa face a torrid time when they confront Germany in a Leverkusen friendly on Saturday.Updated: Sep 04, 2009, 15:33 IST
Tradition suggests 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa face a torrid time when they confront Germany in a Leverkusen friendly on Saturday.
Bafana Bafana (The Boys) have a dismal away record of one win, three draws and 12 defeats against European opposition since their first visit to the continent ended in a 2-1 defeat by England at Old Trafford 12 years ago.
The sole success came on the Mediterranean island of Malta in 2000 with dreadlocked midfielder Thabo Mngomeni scoring the only goal of a dour duel 60 seconds from full-time.
Denmark are the one opponent the first African hosts of the World Cup do not suffer from stage fright against, drawing 1-1 at the 1998 World Cup in France and in Copenhagen the following year.
The other draw came against Iceland in Germany ahead of the 1998 World Cup while the heaviest reverses saw Bafana suffer three-goal losses to Germany, France, Sweden, Georgia and Iceland.
German air clearly does not agree with the South Africans as apart from a 3-0 drubbing in damp Dusseldorf in 1997 they fell 4-2 in Bremen four years ago with Lukas Podolski scoring a hat-trick.
On both occasions Germany scored early goals, showing up the defensive fragility of South Africa, whose only clean sheet came against Malta, a perennial European football featherweight.
South Africa will lack two defensive stalwarts of the recent Confederations Cup, goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and giant centreback Matthew Booth, owing to injury.
Khune grew in stature during the World Cup dress rehearsal in which Bafana finished fourth behind Brazil, the United States and Spain, while shaven haired Booth became a cult figure partly because of a media mix-up.
“Booooooth” roared approving local fans every time the human ‘skyscraper´ touched the ball, but many foreign journalists believed the Mamelodi Sundowns star was being booed due to him being the lone white in the team.
Also ruled out by injury is midfield ‘enforcer´ Macbeth Sibaya from Russian champions Rubin Kazan, leaving Brazil-born coach Joel Santana short of ‘hard men´ to contain Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez and Cacau.
The injury crisis could offer chances to Anele Ngongca, a utility defender from Belgian club Genk unknown to South African football followers before his first call-up last week, and recalled centreback Bevan Fransman.
After Leverkusen, South Africa move to the Republic of Ireland for a September 8 friendly at Thomond Park in Limerick, a venue best known as the fortress of European rugby union giants Munster.