Mphela to fill McCarthy's boots

Striker ready to shine for South Africa while Brazil given World Cup workout by Zimbabwe.

    Mphela scores a penalty as South Africa continued their unbeaten run against Guatemala [AFP]

    Katlego Mphela is ready to pick up the mantle as the leader of South Africa's attack for the World Cup after the shock omission of Benni McCarthy.

    Mphela is the player the hosts will turn to for goals starting with next Friday's opening match against Mexico in Johannesburg.

    "It does put a bit of pressure on my shoulders but I can handle it," the Mamelodi Sundowns striker told the Reuters news agency.

    Mphela has been the main frontman in South Africa's warmup matches.

    "The coach (Carlos Alberto Perreira) plays me each game which means he has faith in me and believes in me," said the 25-year-old.

    "It is up to me now to try and believe in myself and get more goals.

    "I've scored three goals in my last three games. I am feeling a lot more confident especially scoring right now before the World Cup. It has come at the right moment."


    Mphela has netted five times in his last four outings, taking his overall tally to 14 goals in 31 internationals.

    Brazil gave a glimpse of the Latin American flair they will bring to the World Cup in South Africa with a 3-0 warm-up win over Zimbabwe on Wednesday, a victory tempered by an injury to goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

    While Brazil enjoyed a rapturous reception at the 60,000 capacity national stadium in Zimbabwe's capital Harare, Fifa president Sepp Blatter was attending the official handing-over of the showpiece Soccer City stadium near Soweto, venue for the World Cup's opening match on June 11 and final on July 11.

    Blatter marked the occasion by calling former South Africa president Nelson Mandela "the most charismatic humanist alive".

    Mandela, 91 is expected to be among the VIPs at the opening match between South Africa and Mexico although ill-health could prevent him from attending.

    "The right legacy for this event will be 'let's celebrate Africa's humanity'," Blatter said.

    "Let's celebrate the most charismatic humanist alive – Nelson Mandela. We do hope Nelson Mandela will be here at the beginning of the World Cup in this stadium. This will be the highlight."

    Brazil, who will attempt to win the World Cup for the sixth time, were given a decent workout by Zimbabwe, ranked a lowly 110th in the world.

    Cesar injury

    Michel Bastos, Robinho and Elano scored for Dunga's side although the coach would have been concerned by the sight of keeper Julio Cesar being substituted in the 26th minute.

    Serbia again looked bereft of ideas as they followed up last weekend's 1-0 defeat by fellow World Cup finalists New Zealand with a tepid 0-0 draw against Poland.

    Goals from Enrique Vera and Lucas Barrios gave Paraguay a 2-0 win over Greece in a warm-up match between the two World Cup-bound sides.

    England's World Cup hopes received a boost with coach Fabio Capello agreeing to remain in charge until 2012.

    European champions Spain, fancied by many to win a first World Cup, plan to give midfielder Cesc Fabregas a run-out in a warm-up against South Korea on Thursday.

    The midfielder has been recovering from a cracked bone in his right leg and has not played for two months.

    Striker Fernando Torres is close to a return from a knee injury but must wait a little longer for playing time, coach Vicente del Bosque said.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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