South Africa wary of Kiwis' aerial power
South Africa may have the tallest player in the competition, in defender Matthew Booth yet it was the superior aerial threat posed by New Zealand that was preoccupying the mind of the FIFA Confederations Cup hosts here Tuesday.
Defeat for Joel Santana's side in Wednesday's Group A meeting with the champions of Oceania would likely open the door for Iraq to go through to the semi-finals as runners-up behind expected table toppers Spain.
"We're expecting a tough match tomorrow, especially dealing with set pieces," he said. "We all know the New Zealanders are tall, they're good in the air, we as a team must be prepared for that."
It may be winter in South Africa but the Kaizer Chiefs stopper said the temperature was rising following Sunday's disappointing opening goalless draw with Iraq.
"We are all, as a team and the host country, under pressure for missing two points in the first game and we're looking forward to tomorrow to put that right," he continued.
"New Zealand won't be easy but we're prepared to go out and win the match. Obviously it will be disappointing for the country as a whole if we don't win but all is not lost yet, we can talk about that after the game."
New Zealand, crushed 5-0 by the all conquering Spaniards, are also badly in need of the three points on offer in this North West Province mining town.
Earlier, Santana supervised a full training session in which Everton playmaker Steven Pienaar, who only saw five minutes of action last Sunday, played a full role at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace stadium.
Afterwards the Brazilian, in hesitant English, said: "New Zealand may have been beaten easily by Spain but they led Italy three times in a friendly last week. They need to win too, they're a good team, it'll be tough."
Santana's defensive tactics are the subject of heated debate by fans and local media, but with so much at stake he suggested a more attacking policy may be called for on Wednesday.
He added: "Bafana Bafana were a little nervous in the first half against Iraq, it was the start of the competition so it was normal. I think we'll play better tomorrow, with more time on the ball."