Pienaar fancies chances
Steven Pienaar says South Africa face a tough test against France but is confident they can progress from Group A
By Danny Wright
Last Updated: 05/12/09 9:18am
Steven Pienaar says he is confident that his South Africa side can progress into the second round of the World Cup finals.
The hosts were pitched against Mexico, Uruguay and France in Group A and they kick off the tournament on 11th June against the Mexicans.
The South Africans were seeded as the host nation, meaning they avoided tournament favourites such as Brazil, Spain and England, although the Everton man admitted the prospect of playing France was a tough one.
The 27-year-old conceded he was not keen on being drawn with Raymond Domenech's men, but said they would look forward to playing a side that qualified in controversial circumstances.
When asked if he was disappointed to be playing France, he told Sky Sports News: "Yes at first, but not now.
"It's just part of football and we're looking forward to playing against them - they've big name players in the team.
"For us it's a really tough group. We'll just have to wait and see."
The former Borussia Dortmund player said his side were expected to progress from Group A into the second phase, and the midfielder believes the games against Mexico and Uruguay are winnable.
"I think we can get out of the group," he said. "We have Mexico, they play quite similar football to us and Uruguay's similar. They're not that big so only France will be a bit of a challenge for us.
"For us it's to go to the second round that's the expectation and to play attractive football."
Despite the tough prospect of playing France, the Everton man said the backing of a partisan home crowd would make all the difference to the Bafana Bafana.
He also revealed the country's people are excited for the tournament which begins with South Africa taking on Mexico at Soccer City.
"They'll of course boost the players and the confidence with them behind us and it's that 10% they can get out of the players," Pienaar added.
"We hope that they'll be behind us. The World Cup has been living with the people for the last two years now and the moment has come and it's just a few months left."
The midfielder said been drawn against Tim Cahill's Australia would have provided some dressing room banter between the Toffees pair.
"It could have been good for us," said Pienaar. "It'd have been a local derby. There's a lot of Australians in South Africa and a lot of South Africans in Australia."
He also said he was pleased to have avoided England in the group stages thanks to the tournaments seedings, but would relish the chance to take on Fabio Capello's men in the knock-out phase.
"It'd have been a tough one for us," he said. "They've got a world class team with a good coach and good organisation and it'd have been hard for us.
"(But) there's nothing to lose. You go out and give everything and you might cause an upset."
Pienaar tipped the Ivory Coast and North and South Korea to cause upsets during the finals next summer, adding: "Ivory Coast can cause an upset and the Koreans also."