One of South Africa's star performers here at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009, Siboniso Gaxa, has stated his belief that Bafana Bafana must stifle Brazil's strongest players if they wish to pull off an upset in Thursday 25 June's semi-final at Ellis Park.
Defender Gaxa, who plays his club football in his homeland with Mamelodi Sundowns, is relishing the challenge of taking on a Brazil side containing some of the biggest names on Planet Football, though he is fully aware of the challenge ahead.
"The game itself is a big match for us, I'm excited to be part of such a game. The most important thing is to believe in ourselves," said Gaxa. "We need to play attacking football, we need to put our chances away. But the most important thing is belief. I have a strong feeling that we will do well against Brazil. We have to neutralise them and their dangerous players."
Much of South Africa's play has revolved around Gaxa so far this tournament, with his creativity and spark breaking forward from right full-back earning rave reviews from fans and media alike. "Before the Confederations Cup, I did a lot of training on my own, I did a lot of gym work," said the Sundowns defender. "I would come in early at training to work on some aspects on my game, especially my ability to deliver a good cross."
Discovered at the age of just 19 by then SuperSport United coach Pitso Mosimane, who is now assistant to Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana, Gaxa started out as a central defender only to make the transition to right-back around two years ago. The role change brought out the best in him, giving him the opportunity to roam down the right flank and use his attacking ability to good effect.
And having taken his first steps on the footballing ladder at the FC Copenhagen School of Excellence in Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth, it was with United that Gaxa's career really took off. After helping them to victory in last season's South African Premiership, the fleet-footed wide-man subsequently made the switch to the big-spending Sundowns.
"The school of excellence gave me a solid foundation, we had very knowledgeable people from Denmark who taught us a lot about football and life outside football. I learned a lot about the game and how to behave as a professional player even before I could start playing professionally," continued Gaxa, as the interview drew to a close.
"But my main goal now is to play overseas. I want to do well here first, then I can make a big move. I always want to improve my game and a move overseas would be an opportunity to grow."