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Page last updated at 14:39 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

South Africa continue 2010 preps

South Africa coach Joel Santna
South Africa coach Joel Santana leads his team against Norway

South Africa seek their first win in seven games against European opposition when they host Norway at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday.

Since defeating Slovenia at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, the 2010 hosts have lost to Spain, England, Iceland, Germany, Scotland and Italy.

Meanwhile Norway won in Germany last month for the first time since 1936.

And the Scandinavians bring the same team to South Africa under colourful new coach Egil Olsen, confident of inflicting further misery on their hosts.

The same evening a Christian Grindheim goal stunned Germany in a friendly, South Africa were losing 2-0 to Chile in Polokwane and were lucky the defeat was not heavier.

Before the loss to Chile Bafana Bafana had managed a record five consecutive wins against largely second-string African rivals.

The wins had lulled South Africa into believing they could be on for an impressive showing when they stage the Confederations Cup in June.

But the pace and pressing of Chile left South Africa bewildered and once again raised fears that come 2010 they are in danger of becoming the first hosts not to survive the opening round.

One problem for coach Joel Santana ahead of Norway and another friendly against Portugal in Switzerland next Tuesday, was the failure of leading scorer Benni McCarthy to appear.

His English club Blackburn Rovers claim the player was fit to travel but McCarthy disagreed, saying he is still experiencing pain from a hamstring injury suffered against West Ham last weekend.

McCarthy has driven various South Africa coaches to distraction since bursting onto the scene at the 1998 African Nations Cup as he quits and returns to the international scene while trading verbal blows with officials.

The South African attack tends to be a blunt instrument without him and with 66-year-old Olsen preaching blanket defence and swift counterattacks, the home team could face a frustrating time.

The friendly doubles as the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge fixture, which has been won six times by South Africa, twice by Senegal, once by Brazil, Egypt, the Netherlands and the United States and drawn twice.

It is also the first major game at the revamped Confederations Cup and World Cup venue west of Johannesburg with increased seating, improved floodlights, added security and new roads on trial.

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see also
McCarthy withdraws from SA squad
24 Mar 09 |  African
Round-up of African friendlies
12 Feb 09 |  African

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