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South Africa gets confidence boost
by Paul Kennedy, June 22nd, 2009 7AM



[CONFEDERATIONS CUP] South Africa's Brazilian coach, Joel Santana, could breathe a sigh of relief. Even though the Bafana Bafana fell to Spain, 2-0, in Saturday's Group A finale, they advanced to the semifinals when Iraq could only tie New Zealand, 0-0.

South Africa has been called potentially the weakest team to ever host the World Cup -- no host team has ever failed to qualify for the knockout stage -- so its qualification for the semifinals against Brazil gives it a huge confidence boost.

"The team was not good against Spain," said Santana, "but Bafana Bafana have qualified. It's good for the people, good for the players and good for our preparations for the World Cup. It's important the team got to the semifinals. I'm very happy. The experience we gained is crucial for the World Cup."

Group A
June 20 in Johannesburg
Iraq 0 New Zealand 0.
Iraq -- Kassid, Ali Kareem, Shaker, Rehema, Abbas, Kareem (Sadir 67), Akram, H.M. Mohammed (Majeed 46), Jassim, Mohammed (Zahra 56), Mahmoud.
New Zealand -- Moss, Scott (Mulligan 83), Vicelich, Sigmund (Boyens 71), Lochhead, Brockie (Christie 68), Elliott, Brown, Bertos, Smeltz, Killen.
Referee: Howard Webb (England)
Att.: 23,295.

June 20 in Bloemfontein
South Africa 0 Spain 2. Goals: Villa 52, Llorente 72.
South Africa -- Khune, Gaxa, Mokoena, Booth, Masilela, Pienaar, Sibaya (Mashego 83), Dikgacoi, Mhlongo, Modise, Parker (Tshabalala 90+2).
Spain -- Reina, Puyol, Albiol, Pique, Arbeloa, Busquets, Xavi, Fabregas, Riera (Santi Cazorla 81), David Villa (Hernandez 61), Torres (Llorente 60).
Att.: 38,212.


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