Denmark test for Bafana

Denmark will pose a much bigger test and examination of Bafana Bafana’s World Cup credentials when the teams clash in their final World Cup warm-up friendly at Atteridgeville’s Super Stadium on Saturday. Kick off is at 2.15pm.

That was the view of former Bafana captain Neil Tovey, who led the national side to glory when Bafana won the African Nations Cup on home soil in 1996.

The clash against Denmark will be coach Carlos Alberto Parreira’s last chance to fine-tune Bafana before they tackle Mexico in the opening World Cup Group A match on June 11.

Huge improvement
In home warm-up games this month Bafana slaughtered minnows Thailand 4-0, Guatemala 5-0, defeated highly respected Colombia 2-1 and drew 1-1 with Bulgaria.

Said Tovey: “There has been huge improvement in Bafana’s play.
The fact Parreira has had the players for the past five months has helped the squad gel as a unit.

“The 23-man squad he announced this week comprises mainly those players who have been with him since January, with the exception of a couple of overseas-based players.”

The overseas players included are Aaron Mokoena, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Bernard Parker, Tsepo Masilela, Steven Pienaar and Macbeth Sibaya. But Tovey said Denmark would be a whole new ball game.

“Denmark are a totally different side to those we have played. They play a completely different style of football in that they are dead ball experts and are good at keeping the ball, able to defend and play simple direct football.

Tough test
“We have traditionally struggled against sides like Denmark in the past.

“I have been impressed by Bafana’s progress so far but this match could be the most difficult in their warm-up programme.

“It will be a tough test as the Danes are streets ahead of the likes of Thailand.

“Bafana have done well in thumping both those smaller sides as there are no easy games in international soccer anymore and things are looking much better than they did eight months ago for Bafana.”

Tovey said Bafana’s new passing game and their ability to keep possession had impressed him: “There is a lot more cohesion in the side now and that is good.”

‘We have to get a result’
The former skipper also believes the key to Bafana’s success in getting to the next round of the World Cup for the first time, was Mexico. “We have to get a result. By that I mean at least a draw.

“We simply cannot afford to lose as we are in the toughest group. They talk about the group with Brazil, Portugal and Côte d’Ivoire as the Group Of Death. I reckon Bafana’s group is even tougher. So much depends on the game against Mexico next Friday.”

Tovey does not have much sympathy for striker Benni McCarthy who was one of five players to be dropped on Tuesday.

“Benni has only himself to blame. When he left Blackburn Rovers to join West Ham United in January, Rovers released him due to his lack of fitness.

“He should have woken up with the World Cup around the corner and worked harder to get fit. I realise he has had injuries, but he was obviously not in shape to play at the World Cup.

“We could have done with having a fully fit Benni, but in my view Benni let him self down by not getting in shape. He knew the score.”—Sapa

shape. He knew the score.”—Sapa

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