Australia v South Africa – 9.00 am kick off Monday
World Cup preparations begin for Australia with an International friendly against South Africa in Sydney. The Aussies have just two games before their tournament begins and they are likely to be disappointed with the level of opposition they face on Monday.
The South Africa squad is depleted with a huge number of players making themselves unavailable. South Africa’s domestic season is still very much in full flow and for this friendly tie, the big clubs are refusing to release their players.
The South African authorities may well be able to persuade the Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates to release their stars in time for Monday’s game but at present, manager Gordon Igesund has stated that he cannot even run any training sessions without any players. Originally, 18 players were called up for the Bafana Bafana and just 11 made themselves available.
So which players look set to miss out? Well star of the World Cup four years ago for the hosting nation was Simphiwe Tshabalala and the winger looks set to miss the trip to Sydney. The country’s captain Itumeleng Khune also plays his club football for the Kaizer Chiefs and is set to stay in South Africa. Closer to home, Crystal Palace midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi has struggled with injuries all year and misses the game to have surgery on a leg injury. The experience of these players will be significant with 15 of the new 18 man squad having 10 or less caps for their country.
Australia need to play well in this tie, as this is just one of two games before the World’s biggest tournament begins. Australia are in the group of death along with Spain, The Netherlands and Chile, with most predicting the Asian World Cup qualifiers to struggle to score a goal let alone a win. Manager Ange Postecoglou, will want to build as much confidence as he can in these warm up fixtures.
Despite the Soceroos going in to the competition without the big names of the golden generation which included Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell, they have strong enough players in Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak to aim for points in Brazil. Here against South Africa I expect the Aussies to put out a strong side and focus on a good result.
South Africa quite clearly are not particularly interested in this tie and with the Australian players wanting to put on a strong performance, not only for the home crowd but also for themselves as they fight for a starting place in Brazil, I can see this ending one way.