SYDNEY — Bafana Bafana could become the ultimate party poopers when they face an overconfident Australia at ANZ Stadium on Monday in a friendly international that is supposed to serve as a festive send-off to the World Cup for the Socceroos.
News of the absence of Bafana regulars like captain Itumeleng Khune and striker Bernard Parker has increased confidence in Sydney and many locals are now under the impression that Australia only have to show up to win.
The hosts have planned an elaborate send-off for their national team and some businesses have been encouraged to allow employees to take an early cut from work to attend a game the media have described as "an emotional farewell".
A special tribute has been planned for retired Australia players Mark Schwarzer and Brett Emerton, and fans have been asked to arrive early to share the experience.
A full house is expected at the Sydney stadium as the cost of trains and buses has been included in the match ticket.
Mindful of the growing bravado, Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said that he was wary of the obsessive fixation on the absence of some key Bafana Bafana players and would not allow his players to start believing the hype.
"I cannot buy into that stuff," Postecoglou said on Sunday.
"Once you write people off and once they put their national team shirt on, it is a unique thing regardless where you are in your life or your career. I am expecting a really good contest on Tuesday night and we are certainly not buying the fact that it might be some sort of an under-strength, or weakened or even an easy game."
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said that the 18 players he had got in his squad would deliver and Australia could expect a difficult day in the office on Monday. "This is a formidable team and it is a highly talented squad," he said.
"Obviously, (Australians) are disappointed that certain players like Bernard Parker, our top goal scorer, are not here. But you know what, this is a new generation we have got here now and we have a new group of players I believe will put up a good showing," said Igesund.
The coach has been analysing the hosts and said that he had an idea of what to expect from the World Cup-bound Socceroos.
"I have watched a couple of their games against Canada, Costa Rica and, of course, Ecuador and I think they play with a high tempo.
"They play the way the game should be played."
Postecoglou, on the other hand, has not been so lucky and admitted that he knows very little about the current Bafana squad because of the withdrawal of many regulars before the trip to Sydney.
"We have done our analysis but obviously they (Bafana) have had a few changes to their side. Certainly from our perspective it has been a little bit of a challenge to get real analysis on individual players.
"But we have watched their last few games and they have disappointing results as well as very good results. As we said, we are expecting a tough game and from our perspective we have got to prepare ourselves to make sure we cannot be fooled into thinking it will be anything other than an intense international match."
The Australia coach said he was desperate to win the game as his countrymen would attach a lot of importance to the result of the final match before the World Cup.
"In my job, the result is always important. I have never dismissed a result in my whole career and I am not going to start now. Whether it is on the eve of the World Cup, first game after the World Cup, or whether it is my first game in charge or my 100th game. The result always matters and it will matter tonight."