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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 07:01 GMT 08:01 UK
Radebe's pride at record
Lucas Radebe holds off Roque Santa Cruz
Radebe

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When he led his side onto the pitch for Sunday's opening game against Paraguay, South African captain Lucas Radebe wrote himself into the record books by becoming his country's most-capped player.

Radebe earned his 67th cap for Bafana Bafana to overtake the previous record held jointly by Shoes Moshoeu and Helman Mkhalele, both of whom were Radebe's team-mates in the side that won the 1996 African Cup of Nations.

A few months ago, the possibility of Radebe adding to the 63 caps he had gained before his career threatening ankle and knee injuries which kept him out of the game looked remote.

"I couldn't believe I made it to the World Cup because when the season finished I was still struggling for games and to get match fit," Radebe said.

Spirit

"It's been a long hard ride for me. It's been a very difficult season but for me to be here at the finals leading my team for the second time is an honour."

The 33 year-old defender, who is the last remaining player who played in South Africa's first international since readmission against Cameroon in July 1992, said he was happy with the way his knee has stood up since his comeback match against Madagascar in May.

"I've been gradually building up my match fitness and I'm very happy with the way things have gone thus far."

Radebe believes while the team which played at the 1998 World Cup was probably more talented than the class of 2002, the present crop had great potential and spirit.

"We showed that spirit by coming back against Paraguay," he said.

"Now our focus is to get a result against Slovenia, which should provide a good platform to advance to the second round," he said.


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GROUP B
  P GD PTS
SPAIN 3 +5 9
PARAGUAY 3 0 4
SOUTH AFRICA 3 0 4
SLOVENIA 3 -5 0

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