South Africa-New Zealand preview
Host nation South Africa are preparing to go head-to-head with New Zealand in Rustenburg on 17 June, with both teams desperate for the three points that would keep alive their dreams of progressing from Group A of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009.
While Joel Santana's charges know it was their finishing which let them down in their opening 0-0 draw with Iraq, their opponents from Oceania were undone by problems at the other end when shipping five goals against Spain.
South Africa-New Zealand, 17 June, 20.30 (local time) - Rustenburg
After their failure to take a host of opportunities against Asian champions Iraq, Bafana Bafana front-runners Bernard Parker and Thembinkosi Fanteni will be determined to put that right against the All Whites - who boast the worst defensive record at the competition so far. A win would also go a long way to repaying the host nation fans' for their unrelenting support from the outset.
New Zealand supremo Ricki Herbert, meanwhile, is certain to make every effort to ensure his side are more solid and focused at the back than against La Roja. Indeed, the Kiwis were already three goals down by the 17-minute mark and also conceded in the opening minutes of the second period, a pattern they must not repeat if they wish to stay in the competition.
Bernard Parker-Ivan Vicelich
To put it mildly, things did not go the Bafana Bafana forward's way in his country's opening game, except for a goal-bound effort from team-mate Kagisho Dikgacoi which Parker inadvertently cleared off the Iraqi line. And despite being the hosts' liveliest front-man, his failure to find the net means the Crvena Zvezda player has much to make up for against the Kiwis.
Looking to deny him a shot at redemption will be the All Whites' veteran defender Ivan Vicelich, who postponed his international retirement in order to appear at South Africa 2009. Though the Auckland FC man and his colleagues had a game to forget against La Selección, his leadership skills and experience will be vital if New Zealand are to bounce back into contention.
New Zealand 5-6 South Africa, 28 June 1947, friendly game, New Zealand
This match was the first of a four-game series played over the space of 20 days, all of which were won by the South Africans. And as the 11-goal scoreline suggests, this opening encounter set a standard for entertainment that the remaining clashes must have struggled to match.
9 - The number of goals the All Whites have conceded in their last two games, after conceding five against La Roja and another four in a pre-tournament friendly defeat by Italy.
Did you know?
The last meeting between the two countries' men's senior sides dates back over 60 years to the aforementioned four-game series in 1947. On top of winning each encounter, Bafana Bafana scored 24 goals to just nine conceded.
What they said
"We didn't play as good as we can do (against Iraq), but you cannot forget they made it difficult for us by holding out for the draw. We still have a chance to go through but to reach that goal, we have to win our next match (against New Zealand)." South Africa defender Siboniso Gaxa following the 0-0 draw with Iraq.
"Our tournament proper starts with the next two games. Both Iraq and South Africa will have a job to take points from Spain and the games between us will decide who finishes second in the group." New Zealand forward Shane Smeltz after the 5-0 defeat by Spain.
Have your say
Which of these two teams will be the first to get on the scoresheet here at South Africa 2009?