His threat might not have been as intimidating as George Bush’s speech before the American troops stormed Iraq, but new Bafana Bafana striker Davide Somma vowed to “destroy” the United States when the two teams meet in the Nelson Mandela Challenge at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night.
Somma, who is of Italian descent and was born in Johannesburg, emigrated to the US during his childhood and played soccer in the US and Spain. Later, he played for several clubs in Italy before returning to the US for a stint in the Major Soccer League, with the San Jose Earthquakes.
The 25-year-old then moved to Leeds United in 2009 on a one-year deal, but his contract was extended after scoring seven goals in 14 games for the English Championship club.
Somma admitted yesterday that he wanted to play for the US, but after ignoring him, the striker wants to prove a point against the Americans. “I’m pumped up,” said Somma with a fairly heavy American accent. “The match is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while now.
“I just want to destroy them. They were buggering me around so much. I wanted to play for them, now I’m in South Africa and I want to destroy them. That’s all I want to do. I want to score. America didn’t show a lot of interest in me as much as South Africa. I was born here and I’m just happy to be called up to the squad,” Somma added.
But while the Leeds striker despises the Yanks, he admitted that he doesn’t know a lot about them. Still, he feels Bafana should beat the Americans after they picked a young and inexperienced team for the match.
But history is certainly against Bafana, who have lost both their previous encounters against the Americans. Bafana lost 1-0 against the US in this fixture three years ago at Ellis Park and got hammered 4-0 in 2000 in the States.
“I don’t know much about the American team. I only played for the San Jose Earthquakes for about six months. All I know is that they are very fit, but we should beat them because we have a lot of skilful players,” he said.
Somma had only two practice sessions before he can complete his personal vendetta tonight. And he has yet to receive “the video” of Bafana’s last couple of matches coach Pitso Mosimane promised to give him.
But the big striker “with the good body” says he is fitting in well in the team, although Bafana’s style of play is totally different to what he’s been experiencing in England.
“I don’t know about this video,” Somma joked, looking a bit perplexed. “I’m just trying to get used to how the South African team play.
“It’s a change from English football, where the ball is mostly up in the air and down the channels. It’s certainly going to be different, because Bafana like to play more of a passing game.
“But I will adapt. I can hold the ball up, but I also like to get in behind defenders. I have got a little bit of pace, but I also like to be in the six-yard area. So, I can do a little bit of everything,” Somma added.
A lot will be expected from the much-travelled Somma and he will be under pressure to perform and lead the line in the absence of Katlego Mphela at what is going to be a packed Cape Town Stadium.
Mosimane this week said not to judge the Leeds man on his first outing for the national team. But with all the hype around him, following his exploits in the English Championship, he will definitely be the man South African fans will watch to see what the fuss is all about.
“Obviously you want to do well. That is the only pressure you have. But the coach said to me ‘Do what you have been doing’ and that’s why he picked me and included me in the national team,” Somma said.
*The South African Under-23 team will take on their Botswana counterparts as a curtain-raiser for the match between Bafana and the US. The match kicks off at 6pm.
Bafana Bafana; Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Moeneeb Josephs; Defenders: Morgan Gould, Siboniso Gaxa, Tsepo Masilela, Siyabonga Sangweni, Anele Ngconca, Bevan Fransman, Siyanda Xulu, Keegan Ritchie; Midfielders: Teko Modise, Andile Jali, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Steven Pienaar, Thanduyise Khuboni, Daylon Claasen, Matthew Pattison, Kagisho Dikgacoi; Strikers: Sthembiso Ngcobo, Kermit Erasmus, Davide Somma, Bernard Parker
US; Goalkeepers: Dominic Cervi, Brad Guzan; Defenders: Gale Agbossoumonde, Nat Borchers, Jonathan Bornstein, Clarence Goodson, Eric Lichaj, Tim Ream, Jonathan Spector; Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoya, Brian Carroll, Mikkel Diskerud, Eddie Gaven, Logan Pause, Robbie Rogers; Forwards: Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Robbie Findley - Cape Times