South Africa will host Brazil in a David vs. Goliath international friendly matchup on Wednesday.
The 2014 World Cup hosts will look to extend their six-match winning streak in hostile territory. Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana will be aiming to build on the momentum they seized last November after topping Spain in Soccer City.
Still, Gordon Igesund's men will have to be near-flawless if they hope to topple Luiz Felipe Scolari's World Cup favorites.
Although Wednesday's matchup will carry significant weight for both sides, it's critical for the South Americans, who have just a few months and three matches left to prepare themselves for a pressure-packed 2014 World Cup run.
Therefore, each possession will be key for Scolari and his staff as they look to assemble the best roster possible ahead of June's global spectacle.
Here we'll get you set with everything you need to know ahead of kickoff.
Date: Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Start Time: 12 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. GMT
Where: FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa
TV: beIN Sports
Top Storyline: Passing of the World Cup Torch
With no tournament berths or titles at stake, the biggest story heading into Wednesday's friendly clash is the passing of the World Cup torch. 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa put on a month-long show four years ago and soon it will be Brazil's turn to do the same.
While a win for Brazil is expected, a victory for South Africa would be a mighty statement three months ahead of the World Cup.
Although his team will be massive underdogs, Igesund is confident that his players will turn in their best effort, per the South African Football Association:
I expect the players to put a good performance. We did so against Spain and I believe the players will give nothing less. It is surely going to be a tough match but I am certain the players will be competitive against the five-time world champions. We need these kind of games to gauge where we are and this is one match where you don’t need to motivate the players as they know what is expected of them.
South Africa is clearly a dangerous team. Despite the fact they failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, they're in excellent form and playing with little to no pressure against a team that's supposed to beat them.
If Bafana Bafana hope to stun the Selecao, they'll need to shine bright on the defensive end, where they held defending World Cup champions Spain to zero goals four months ago.
Which side will prevail?
Despite the energy and buzz behind South Africa in Johannesburg, it would appear that Brazil are too talented to slip up on Wednesday.
After all, the Selecao have won six straight friendlies and have scored 20 goals in the process.
If there is a weakness, it's at striker, as ESPN FC's Tim Vickery points out:
From the outside, centre forward would certainly seem to be Brazil’s weak point, principally because the leading candidates are not stars in the European game. Reserve Jo lived something of a playboy existence with Manchester City and Everton, even making a unilateral attempt to introduce the concept of the midwinter break to the English game (taking an unauthorised flight home for the Christmas festivities). First-choice Fred had a spell with Lyon in France but lacked the patience and dedication to build a career in Europe, choosing instead to come back and play for Fluminense of Rio.
But aside from a few question marks, Brazil's overall talent is undeniable and at times unrivaled.
Plus, Scolari's side has little room for fun and games with only three matchups left to prepare for the World Cup. Every minute counts for Brazil and Wednesday's showdown is just the beginning of what they hope will be a long and triumphant journey.
Bafana Bafana certainly won't be lacking motivation either as they enter with immense confidence after knocking off Spain back in November. Still, it's a matter of a streaking squad going up against a streaking juggernaut.
The hosts will have their moments, but this matchup will belong to Brazil.
South Africa 1, Brazil 3
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