Sao Paulo – Head coach Gordon Igesund said before the game that South Africa had a plan to contain Brazilian prodigy Neymar, and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was full of praise for the side's defence after they shut him out for most of 90 minutes on Friday night.
Neymar hardly put pressure on the South Africans, leaving second-half replacement Hulk to eventually find the back of the net with 15 minutes left, handing the hosts a 1-0 victory over a gutsy Bafana outfit in an international friendly at Morumbi Stadium in Sao Paulo.
“Credit must go to my defenders who listened to the instructions I gave them,” said Khune, who pulled off some spectacular saves to keep the tourists in the game.
“We never gave Neymar much time on the ball. We discussed beforehand that we were going to be on his back and not give him time to turn and face us, and we did exactly that.
“We wanted him to play the ball back because he's dangerous and can take on five or six defenders by himself.
“He didn't have the best of games, but we had watched him on TV and we knew he was a threat, and we managed to do well against him.”
Bafana, in a rebuilding phase under new coach Igesund, face Mozambique in another international friendly in Nelspruit on Tuesday.
Ranked 40 places above their Southern African neighbours in the global list, Khune insisted the South Africans would not take the visitors lightly on the back of an impressive display against Brazil.
“We're not going to underestimate Mozambique,” he said.
“They can come to us and surprise us, so we need to remain grounded as a team and go out there and continue from where we left off.
“It will be a difficult game because they will want to prove a point.
“As much as we came here to Brazil and disrespected them on their ground, Mozambique can also come and upset us.
“So I think we just have to stay positive and do what we need to do to win the game.”
*Sapa's reporter is in Sao Paulo as a guest of the SA Football Association. – Sapa