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Eleven Games Unbeaten, but how Challenging Were They?

Ever since narrow defeats to Norway and Iceland back in October ’09, Carlos Parreira’s men have been unbeatable. Whilst this may considerably increase morale in the South African camp, it must be taken into account that the quality of their opposition has hardly been world class; in fact it has been quite the opposite. Actually, their failure to beat some of the sides faced has been quite startling, something which the Bafana Bafana must address before the World Cup opener against Mexico.

Most worrying is their inability to score goals, especially in the first three games of this unbeaten stretch. Even the dangerman Mphela couldn’t find the net against Jamaica or North Korea – supposedly the weakest side in the event – although it must be said that Japan posed a much stronger threat. However, following this South Africa have proved much more fluent in front of goal. Two second-half strikes were enough to see off Jamaica in their second friendly, before they let loose against Thailand – Mphela finding the net twice in a 4-0 victory. Comfortable victories against Swaziland, Namibia, and Zimbabwe ensued, before South Africa faced their first real test.

South Africa’s 2-1 victory over Colombia was perhaps their most significant victory

When Bulgaria visited Johannesburg, it almost seemed like a test of the Bafana Bafana’s World Cup credentials. And South Africa didn’t fail, holding the Eastern Europeans to a respectable 1-1 draw. Two disputable penalties helped them to beat Colombia 2-1 – showing their ability to compete with South American sides – before they comfortably saw off Guatemala 5-0, a game which saw Aaron Mokoena become the first South African to pick up 100 caps. South Africa face one more test against Denmark on June 5th, and if they come through that unscathed then who knows what could happen come June 10th? A twelve match unbeaten stretch would certainly maintain their confidence.

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