England take on South Africa this evening, but do we really know what to expect?
England take on South Africa this evening, but do we really know what to expect? Who'll be the danger man? Are they looking forward to playing against players like Beckham and Owen?
Well, we've recruited an insider to give us the low-down on South Africa ahead of the friendly match in Durban.
Name: Ntuthuko Maphumulo
Nationality: South African
Position: Senior Soccer/Sports Journalist Mail & Guardian
TheFA.com: Tell us what you know.....What was the reaction in South Africa to the news that England would be their opponents for this game?
The South African public is ecstatic that the English team is coming to South Africa. Already the hotels in Durban where the game is going to take place are fully booked. And when the tickets went on sale last week more than 5000 tickets where bought in just one day. This is not the 'norm' in South Africa for soccer supporters to buy tickets early. The stadium on Thursday night is expected to be full to capacity with many soccer-loving supporters arriving early for the game - another thing that does not normally happen in South Africa. Supporters here usually arrive in drips and drabs before kick-off.
TheFA.com: Is English football popular in South Africa?
The English game is very popular in South Africa and is used as a benchmark by all, including the football authorities in the country. The media bombards the public with English football. The soccer supporters here would rather buy and Arsenal or Manchester United jersey at the cost of 500 Rand (£40) than buy a jersey from one of the local clubs here in South Africa.
TheFA.com: Which are the English players that are most respected/feared?
The most respected players are Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Michael Owen.
TheFA.com: What sort of line-up can we expect from South Africa?
The starting line up for the South African team will be Goalkeeper; Brian Baloyi, defenders; Mbulelo Mabizela, Lucas Radebe and Aaron Mokeona. In midfield we will have Quinton Fortune, Sibusiso Zuma, Delron Buckley, Jabulani Mendu and Macbeth Sibaya and strikers Benni McCarthy and Lesley Mnayathela.
TheFA.com: Can you tell us what tactics the team are likely to employ?
The South African team is likely to play a 3-5-2 formation. The wingers, left Buckley and right Zuma, are to provide the crosses to strikers. The man to do all the clearing in midfield will be Sibaya, while Fortune will provide those splitting passes to strikers. At the back Radebe will be a central defender given the sweepers role, while the other two defenders will be expected to, at least, man-mark Beckham and Owen. If this tactic does not work they will introduce ball players Mendu and Stanton Fredricks to provide those dazzling passes and tricks that Doctor Khumalo and John Moshoeu exposed the England squad of 1997.
TheFA.com: Ok, prediction time then...what's the score going to be?
The score is a bit tight to predict, but, if England give their all, the soccer supporters will be expecting and least a 3-1 hiding with England winning. It will be a dull game if the two teams draw as most supporters will be there to support England instead of South Africa. They expect England to win, and convincingly so.
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South Africa v England: Match Centre