Khune up for Neymar challenge

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iol spt feb17 Khune Gallo Images Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune said he was looking forward to facing Brazilian forward Neymar in a friendly next month. Picture: Lee Warren

Johannesburg – Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune said on Monday he was looking forward to facing Brazilian forward Neymar in a friendly at FNB Stadium next month.

“I am relishing the prospect of meeting him again. I want to foil him, that is my aim this time around,” the acrobatic goalkeeper said in a statement.

The two players met for the first time in Sao Paolo two years ago. The home side won the match 1-0, with Neymar failing to get one past Khune.

Neymar recently returned from injury and could be a thorn in the Bafana Bafana defence.

The striker, who has quickly become a leading star for Spanish giants Barcelona, scored a goal at the weekend when his team beat Rayo Vallecano 6-0 at the Nou Camp.

Neymar won the Golden Boot Award at the 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup.

“I am very excited to face Neymar again, and I want to believe the rest of the players are too. He tried his best to be on the score sheet in our last match when we met but I thwarted him now and again,” Khune said.

“I would like to believe he still has a score to settle with me in particular and try to beat me but I am prepared for the battle.

“I want to ensure that he doesn't have that joy. We must just do our homework and half the battle will be won,” he said.

However, it was not only Neymar that Bafana had to look forward to, Khune said.

“ Brazilian team has a galaxy of world class stars who play for the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and others,” he said.

“So we have to be on guard for the entire 90 minutes as they have defenders like David Luiz, Marcelo and Dani Alves who can also score goals from anywhere.”

This would be Khune's third game against Brazil.

The first time was in the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup in South Africa.

The second time was in an international friendly match in Sao Paolo three years later.

“This should be a titanic match. We are really looking forward to welcoming Brazil on our shores again and surely people should just come in numbers and enjoy this game,” he said.

“On my part, I am hoping for third time lucky since we lost the last two encounters. Players and fans alike are excited and talking about this match which gives us a morale booster.

“We have to use the same mentality that we had for the Spain match if we are to get a positive result against what I consider the best team in the world.”

However, this did not mean the home side were going to be complacent or big-headed having beaten Spain.

“It is a different match, different set of players and perhaps different styles of play but we are confident that we can do the business.

“I am almost certain though that they saw our match with Spain and will come here with more will to win because they know what to expect, and they are fine-tuning their squad in preparation for the 2014 Fifa World Cup which they are hosting.”

Kick-off for the friendly is 7pm on March 5. – Sapa



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