Bafana hope to use intimidating Loftus

Once exclusively used for rugby and banned from staging football games, the intimidating Loftus Versfeld Stadium might help host South Africa get through to the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Bafana Bafana head for the administrative capital on June 16 to play two-time World Cup winner Uruguay in their second group game. Bafana Bafana will want their fans to turn out in force and make as much noise as possible in the 50 000-seat ground to make it difficult for the South Americans to concentrate on playing.

Named after the founder of organised sports in Pretoria, the stadium took Loftus Versfeld’s name in 1932 after his death. Sports events have been held on the site since 1903 when it was known as
the Eastern Grounds.

Although the stadium has had several name changes in recent years depending on its sponsors, Loftus Versfeld has become one of the most difficult places for visiting rugby teams to beat the South Africans. It also staged five games at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which South Africa won.

These days Loftus is also host to the Bulls rugby team and Mamelodi Sundowns.

The United States returns to the stadium a year after playing two games in Pretoria at last year’s Confederations Cup. The Americans lost their two group games to Italy and Brazil at Loftus Versfeld but still made it to the final, where they lost to the Brazilians again at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

They will take on Algeria in their third Group C game, which could decide whether the Americans will reach the second round or go home.

The first group game to be played at the stadium will be Serbia against Ghana in Group D on June 13. That will be followed three days later by South Africa at home against Uruguay in Group A.

Cameroon will follow against Denmark in Group E on June 19 and the final group match in Pretoria is European champion Spain against Chile in Group H on June 25.

The stadium also has one second-round match, which is likely to involve defending champion Italy.

Situated across the road from the University of Pretoria, the stadium is 5km from the centre of a city which is only one hour from Johannesburg. -Sapa-AP

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