The U.S. defeated top-ranked Spain the semifinal of the Confederations Cup on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

(WFI) The USA stunned the football world with a two-nil victory over
Spain, widely considered the world’s number one team. That ensured the
US a place in the final of Africa’s first Confederations Cup.

Few
would have predicted the semifinal result, following the ease with
which Spain overcame opponents in the group stage of the tournament and
the unexpected progression by the US to the semifinals.

The US snatched the final-four spot on goal difference to finish the group stage on equal points with world champions Italy.

The
US team’s Confederations Cup finals berth will likely boost American
public interest in the series, which could build ratings for ESPN. The
network is broadcasting every game live in the US. It also will do no
harm to the morale of host South Africa as it prepares for the onerous
task of a semifinal clash with Brazil.

Brazil’s three-nil
thumping of Italy to knock them out of the tournament may have cemented
them as one of the favorites to claim the Confederations Cup. But Spain
also had been favored and were expected to easily overcome a US side
considered ‘easy beats’.

Brazil coach Carlos Dunga wasn’t
showing any signs of overconfidence at a media conference ahead of
Thursday’s semifinal showdown.

“It’s always difficult to play
the host country, they’ll be especially motivated, that gives emotional
support to the host team,” Dunga told journalists.

“He knows what he’s doing. South Africa have improved from game to game, but we’re ready for the challenge.

“They
must be respected as they’ve made it through to the semis. South Africa
are a competitive team with African characteristics – they are very
fast and strong but we’ll play our football and try to block their
positive aspects.”

Former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva echoed his coach’s comments.

“For
South Africa it’s a very important game playing against Brazil. We need
to be focused, we don’t want to be surprised by them,” he told
journalists.

“We can’t start looking

Brazil coach Carlos Dunga said they are taking their match against South Africa seriously. (Getty Images)

at the final; we’ve got to win this first.”

Preparation
for the South Africans included a meet and greet with Nelson Mandela
and a final training session at Johannesburg’s Rand Stadium, part of
which was closed to the media.

Santana assured Bafana Bafana fans that their team would take an attacking stance against five-time world champions Brazil.
“It’s impossible to go out and defend for 90 minutes against Brazil,” he told journalists.

“We’re going to take the game to them. We might lose but we’d prefer to lose honestly playing attacking football.”

“Not to be afraid is important. We want to produce a spectacle.”


FIFA Admits Giving Away Tickets

While
FIFA handed out free tickets to ensure a full stadium at the USA versus
Spain semifinal in Bloemfontein, there will be no such giveaway for the
highly-anticipated encounter between South Africa and Brazil.

Disappointing
crowds in the opening group stage matches resulted in FIFA distributing
tickets to institutions including schools and local authorities.

But FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot would not say how many tickets had been given out for matches so far.

According to FIFA figures, the average attendance through the 13 matches so far is around 35,000.
A day before the semifinal between Brazil and South Africa, 3,000 tickets were still available for purchase.

“We need South Africans to buy tickets and support these teams,” Maingot said.


Written by Anthony Stavrinos.



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