Backdrop perfect for Bafana's resurrection
The healthy odds of a calamitous clobbering for the South Africans, combined with the remote chance of a memorable shock, make for an unmissable show.
New coach Gordon Igesund knows he will not be judged harshly back home if his undercooked side are boiled into a yellowish feijoada stew at the 67 000-seat Morumbi Stadium. But it cannot be fun to ride into the valley of the shadow of Neymar and friends with such an injury-hit skorokoro of a squad. Before the game has even kicked off, Igesund has already endured a painful introduction to the absurdities of international coaching.
First up, his skipper and best player, Steven Pienaar, withdrew from the game, citing a thigh complaint, despite playing 90 minutes for Everton at the weekend.
In-form forward Siyabonga Nomvete dropped out with a foot injury and then so did his replacement, Edward Manqele. Veteran Benni McCarthy, the next centre-forward to be called up, missed a training session on Wednesday with a tight calf. Excellent rightback Anele Ngcongca did not arrive on his scheduled flight from Belgium and neither he nor his club Genk bothered to inform Igesund that he was unable to join the squad.
Thanks to these blows and Igesund's experimental call-ups, the starting 11 will have a fresh look to it. Here's a possible lineup: Itumeleng Khune; Siboniso Gaxa, Siyabonga Sangweni, Bongani Khumalo, Punch Masenamela; Siphiwe Tshabalala, Dean Furman, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Thabo Matlaba; Thulani Serero; Dino Ndlovu The Maccabi Haifa target man Ndlovu has barely played in the PSL, but has impressed Igesund in training, as has Furman.
May Mahlangu and Bernard Parker culd also come off the bench if they don't start. Rookie leftback Kgosi Ntlhe (18) will likely be saved for Tuesday's friendly gainst Mozambique.
Mano Menezes will field a much racier Brazil than the somewhat stodgy line-up that Bafana held goalless for 88 minutes at Ellis Park in 2009. Even so, that memory will fortify the visitors.
Nor can it hurt that Khune, Tshabalala, Sangweni, Khumalo and Serero are old hands at Brazilian conditions: they spent a month training there in 2010 during Carlos Alberto Parreira's pre-World Cup camp.
Igesund's famous motivational flair will scarcely be needed. If a new dawn is indeed coming for Bafana, they could not ask for a more poetic setting in which to get dawning. To paraphrase the Sioux chief Crazy Horse, today is a great day to die - or fly.