Having recently come off a morale-boosting COSAFA Cup victory, Owen Da Gama’s side will be brimming with confidence ahead of their encounter with one of world football’s biggest teams, who coincidentally have never been crowned champions at this particular age group.
Brazil, though, have managed three silver and two bronze medals on five occasions since 1984 as Neymar and co. have been tipped to finally get the monkey off their back on home soil.
South Africa return to the Olympic stage for only the second time, after previously qualifying and getting eliminated at the group stage in Sydney 2000. However, with a team that featured the likes of Benni McCarthy, Quinton Fortune and Jabu Pule, Shakes Mashaba’s men managed a famous victory over a Brazil outfit boasting Lucio, Ronaldinho and Edu.
Captain Keagan Dolly has already preached teamwork as the key to overcoming a team filled with individual stars this evening, and the Mamelodi Sundowns star will be looking to inspire his team to emulate their predecessors from 16 years ago.
A number of battles are sure to make for an entertaining encounter tonight as newly signed Orlando Pirates defenders, along with Bafana Bafana duo Eric Mathoho and Rivaldo Coetzee, will have to fend off the threat of Neymar and new Manchester City recruit Gabriel Jesus, who will lead the line for the home side.
Lille striker Lebo Mothiba, Gift Motupa and Dolly will also have to get through Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Marquinhos, while Highlands Park midfielder Mothobi Mvalo and Aubrey Modiba will have their work cut out in trying to provide cover behind them.
On the bench, Brazil have another Barcelona midfielder in Rafinha as an alternative attacking option, while South Africa could look to turn to Brazilian-based forward Tyroane Sandows, who plays his club football at Porto Alegre-based side Gremio.
Kick-off of this clash is scheduled for 21h00 (SA time).
Brazil XI: Weverton; Zeca, Marquinhos, Caio, D Santos; T Maia, R Augusto; F Anderson; Neymar, Gabigol, Gabriel Jesus
South Africa XI: Khune, Mekoa, Mobara, Coetzee, Mathoho, Mvala, Motupa, Dolly (c), Modiba, Masuku, Mothiba.
Subs: February, Moerane, Mngonyama; Malepe, Ntshangase, Sandows, Morris