South Africa play Colombia tonight in their first game at the brand new 75,000-seater Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, on the back of a terrific run of form. Since last October’s 1-0 defeat in Iceland, they’ve gone undefeated for nine games.
It should be noted however, that the quality of opposition hasn’t been overly impressive and the South Africans have mustered only draws in games against fellow World Cup qualifiers – Japan (0-0), Paraguay (1-1) and South Korea (0-0).
But they have been defensively astute during this period, and you have to go back to September (16 fixtures ago) for the last time Bafana Bafana let in more than a single goal (Germany 2-0), with nine clean sheets to boast of.
With tonight’s opponents Colombia, they face a team that missed out on the World Cup play-off spot by just a single point, having got off to a disastrous start in qualifying. That South Africa have played 12 times since Colombia last had a game should mean that they are far better prepared for this fixture.
This will be no formality for the home side, however, as there is real quality in the Colombian squad, demonstrated in their last two away games that saw them beat World Cup-bound Mexico and Paraguay.
Those two wins were in sharp contrast to their prior away form which had seen them fail to win away from home since June 2007. In Hugo Rodallega, they have a striker who has proven he can score against top teams and he’ll be the main threat tonight.
On Monday night the South Africans drew 1-1 with Bulgaria and were particularly impressive in the first half of the game. With the World Cup drawing near, Carlos Alberto Parreira will be anxious to get a settled team and continue to boost morale around the country in the hope that they can avoid being the first ever hosts to bow out at the group stage.
With this in mind, a near first team is expected to start, yet their tendency to draw matches when they come up against solid opposition could again tell tonight and this is available at 11/5.
Alternatively, for those that like following patterns, they may be interested to note that Colombia are currently on a win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win run of form, meaning another loss is due to continue that bizarre sequence – South Africa are 6/5 to win.
Fancy betting on this game tonight? See the full South Africa vs Colombia market.