South Africa and Uruguay will go into Wednesday’s game knowing that a win would put them in pole position to qualify from a competitive Group A. Both teams came away with respectable draws from their opening matches, with the hosts drawing 1-1 with Mexico and La Celeste holding France to a goalless draw.
Nicolas Lodeira will be unavailable for the match, after being sent off in Uruguay’s match against France despite only coming on as a second half substitute. Oscar Tabarez isn’t expected to match too many changes to a pretty settled team, but could deploy three strikers so as to offer more support to Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan, who showed little sign of recreating their magnificent club form for their country in the France match.
Lodeiro will be suspended for the match after picking up two bookings against France
Ignacio Gonzalez is likely to be the man to miss out if Tabarez does opt for another striker, and Edinson Cavani would be the man to replace him. Gonzalez has had a turbulent season at Valencia, and seemed to lack inspiration and any kind of lustre when facing Les Bleus.
The inclusion of Palermo’s Cavani could unleash Forlan into a deeper role
South Africa aren’t set to make too many changes to the team which took the lead against Mexico in the opening game of their own World Cup. Tsepo Masilela could have earned his place in the team, however, after the left-back came on at half time in that match and offered a lot more attacking intent and width. Steven Pienaar’s creativity in midfield is likely to pose the biggest threat to Uruguay, but La Celeste’s system of two defensive midfielders should be equipped to combat that threat.
Prediction: I can see South Africa putting in another brave performance, but I feel Uruguay’s superior attacking quality will show through in a 1-0 win for La Celeste.