JOHANESBURG: Four members of South Africa's Confederations Cup squad know what it is like to beat Brazil at a major tournament and believe they can do it again in Thursday's semi-final.
Captain Aaron Mokoena, Matthew Booth, Rowen Fernandez and Brian Baloyi were in the squad when Bafana Bafana beat Brazil 3-1 in the group stage at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when the South Americans were again overwhelming favorites.
Although Brazil eventually progressed at South Africa's expense, the victory was received with joy back home and remains one of the landmark results in the country's efforts to join world football's elite.
"It's similar circumstances to Thursday's game. We were also big underdogs and no one expected us to get anything out of the game," goalkeeper Fernandez said on Tuesday. "We had the Australian crowd supporting us, and I think it'll be the same at Ellis Park with the local crowd supporting us. When we have the crowd behind us we tend to play very well and anything's possible," added the Bafana Bafana goalkeeper
Brazil are expected to stroll past a South Africa team that made it out of the group stage only by virtue of beating lowly New Zealand and drawing with Iraq. With striker Robinho and playmaker Kaka in Brazil's team, South Africa cannot compete in terms of star quality, but that was also the case in 2000 when Ronaldinho was on the field.
And Booth is still the sort of tough defender who relishes the chance to impose himself on opponents. "I'm sure Matthew is dying to get stuck into Robinho and give Kaka a piece of his mind," Fernandez said.
But no one in the South Africa squad is taking anything for granted, especially those with experience of beating Brazil. They know just avoiding a big defeat would be a big boost to morale a year ahead of the World Cup.
"Regardless of the result on Thursday, Bafana can't lose," Fernandez said. "If we do lose, we're playing one of the best teams in the world. If we get a result of any sort against them, it's seen as a victory in our eyes."