Johannesburg – While they will be wary of 20-year-old prodigy Neymar, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund says his squad will not get caught up in any hype around the player.
South Africa face five-time world champions Brazil in an international friendly in Sao Paulo on Friday.
“Obviously we know a good deal about Neymar,” Igesund said before the team departed from Johannesburg on Monday.
“We'll certainly discuss ways and means of curbing his influence.
“But when you play against Brazil you expect to come up against 11 top-class players and we are not going to fall into the trap of conentrating overly on one player to the detriment of the opposition as a whole.”
Brazilian legend Pele recently rated Neymar as the best footballer in the world today.
Pele, widely regarded as the greatest soccer player of all-time, may have been overly and sentimentally dazzled by the electric and explosive skill of the dynamic young man who emanates from the same Santos club where he also first made his name.
But for all this, there can be no doubt that Bafana have a king-size challenge on their hands in curbing the torrid and tempestuous goalscorer who is already rated the seventh most marketable commodity in world sport – earning approximately R150 000 million in salaries, which is suplemented by a further R320 million in sponsorship fees.
Igesund said he had studied videos of Brazil's recent performances, both at full international level and in the mainly Under-23 line-up that reached the Olympic Games final before being shocked by Mexico.
“There is no doubt that Neymar is an exceptional talent that only emerges once in a blue moon, but he is also relatively inexperienced when you compare him with someone like Barcelona's Messi,” Igesund said.
“We will take this into account when formulating our plans.” – Sapa