Kaizer Chiefs defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele, who admits that it’s difficult to support a team at the World Cup knowing very well that he could not help Bafana qualify, is backing Germany to defend their crown. Mphahlele says he grew up supporting Germany and loved watching the likes of Michael Ballack and Oliver Kahn.
“How do I support when I could not take my team to the World Cup? My team is Germany, I’ve been supporting them from a long time ago. I enjoyed watching the likes of Ballack, [Torsten] Frings and Oliver Kahn. They still have a good team with players such as Toni Kroos, [Joshua] Kimmich, [Mesut] Ozil and [Julian] Draxler. It’s my favourite team,” Mphahlele says.
Jackson Mabokgwane of Orlando Pirates is another man backing Germany, but is also hoping African teams can do well in the competition.
“I’ve fallen in love with Germany. They seem to be getting something going there, so for me Germany stand a good chance of winning the World Cup,” says Mabokgwane.
“The nice thing about them is if you were to mention key players you would mention around six or seven, unlike your Brazil, where a Neymar has to play well and be on form.
“If you had to single out their key players, you’d mention around two or three, but Germany could even lose one or two players and they have such depth.
“For example, in the goalkeeping department, they’ve been missing Manuel Neuer for the last couple of months, but they still have Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
“So, they have a strong squad, which is what is needed for any team to win titles – as was shown in the UEFA Champions League, where it looked like it was a level playing field but because Real Madrid had depth they were able to put Gareth Bale in and win the game.”
Mabokgwane adds: “I’m hoping that Senegal can go far, I think they’ve been playing well. Obviously, Egypt as well, although they’re not in the best of form and they will be relying on Mohamed Salah.
“But I’m hoping between Nigeria and Senegal, that they can fly the African flag as far as possible in the tournament.”
Polokwane City defender Thabiso Semenya has his money on five-time champions Brazil.
“I have been a supporter of Brazil since I was young. I was mainly impressed with their style of play and their development [of players]. They keep on producing players from their junior ranks. Gabriel Jesus was an unknown four years ago, but now he is a Manchester City star,” Semenya says.
“I just want to see [Philippe] Coutinho, Neymar and Fred performing to my expectations.”
There’s no prizes for guessing who Lorenzo Gordinho, currently on loan to Bloemfontein Celtic from Chiefs, will be supporting given his heritage.
“I think Portugal will definitely get into the quarterfinal, maybe even the semis. Although, getting out the group will be tough because they have Spain and Morocco,” says Gordinho.
“I don’t think they’ll go all the way, but I think they’ll be there in the quarterfinal at least. I think the reliance on [Cristiano] Ronaldo is also a bit too much.
“Maybe if he plays in a number 10 role, he would be better because he’s not as energetic as he was before. There’s going to be a lot for him to do, but the team will have to push too.
“The fact that they won the Euro 2016 also gives them a bit of momentum coming into this tournament, so they would want to do their best to get as far as they can.”
By Chad Klate and Tshepang Mailwane