Former Bafana Bafana players make their World Cup predictions

13 June 2018 - 16:18 By Marc Strydom
FIFA president Gianni Infantino (R) poses with the United 2026 bid (Canada-Mexico-US) officials Carlos Cordeiro (3rd R), president of the United States Football Association, president of the Mexican Football Association Decio de Maria Serrano (3rd L), Steve Reed (2nd R), president of the Canadian Soccer Association, following the announcement of the 2026 World Cup host during the 68th FIFA Congress at the Expocentre in Moscow on June 13, 2018.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino (R) poses with the United 2026 bid (Canada-Mexico-US) officials Carlos Cordeiro (3rd R), president of the United States Football Association, president of the Mexican Football Association Decio de Maria Serrano (3rd L), Steve Reed (2nd R), president of the Canadian Soccer Association, following the announcement of the 2026 World Cup host during the 68th FIFA Congress at the Expocentre in Moscow on June 13, 2018.
Image: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

The 2018 Fifa World Cup kicks off in Moscow on Thursday with the hosts‚ Russia‚ meeting Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium.

TimesLIVE asked four former Bafana Bafana players who represented their country at the France 1998 and Korea/Japan 2002 World Cups who they tip to win in Russia.

We also asked John Moeti‚ George Koumantarakis‚ Brendan Augustine and Maimane Phiri who they think will be Player of the Tournament‚ Golden Boot (top scorer) winner and Goalkeeper of the Tournament in 2018.

John Moeti (1998 World Cup):

I choose Germany to win.

They have proven themselves over the years as a very consistent team‚ and they're also a team for big occasions.

They know how to win tournaments.

Choosing a top goal-scorer is a very difficult one because tournaments are very unpredictable. When you expect established strikers to perform they can fail.

It’s an opportunity for young strikers. I can say‚ perhaps Gabriel Jesus‚ from Manchester City and Brazil.

It’s also hard to predict Player of the Tournament. Maybe Paolo Dybala‚ depending on how Argentina perform.

The best goalkeeper‚ I think‚ is easier to predict.

[Germany’s] Manuel Neuer will always come as one of the best keepers‚ and also depending how he recovers from his lengthy absence.

David de Gea will also be among the best keepers.

George Koumantarakis (2002 World Cup):

I think France will win it. They’re a European team and the World Cup is in Europe‚ so the conditions favour them.

I think they’ve got a very well-balanced squad. Until two years ago they had the most expensive player in the world‚ Paul Pogba.

They’ve got a very strong midfield that also has N’Golo Kanté and Steven Nzonzi‚ who plays for Sevilla.

Defence is probably their weakest area‚ but up-front they’ve got proven scorers like Antoine Griezmann. And they’ve got that flair‚ and that X-factor.

I think Luis Suarez will be top scorer. I’m looking at his group that he’s in [with Russia‚ Saudi Arabia and Egypt] and there is the opportunity to score goals there.

For Player of the Tournament I would have said maybe Mohamed Salah but now he’s got the injury doubt and we don’t even know if Egypt will get out of their group.

It’s going to be from one of the European teams. I’m going to go with a real outsider‚ Nzonzi. Because I’m so convinced now having watched watched him for Sevilla‚ and he’s unbelievable.

Goalkeeper‚ I think Hugo Lloris. He’s been around‚ he’s a very strong keeper and France are going to win it.

Brendan Augustine (1998 World Cup):

Which team will win the World Cup? That would have to be Germany.

I’ve been supporting them since I was a small boy and I’ve always respected the way they play the type of football they play.

Very dynamic and precise football. And they got a couple of big talents who’ve just come through the ranks now.

With Thomas Mueller’s experience I would also hope that he could win the Golden Boot. He won it in South Africa in 2010. It will probably be his last World Cup as well.

Player of the tournament – the French team are very strong with quality players who can go forward and defend as well.

For me it’s going to be a Germany-France final. But to pick the Player of the Tournament‚ I just can’t. I would hope it would be a German player.

The best goalkeeper‚ for me it’s obviously Manuel Neuer.

Maimane Phiri (2002 World Cup):

Germany will win. They’ve kept the core of the team that won in Brazil in 2014‚ and they strengthened that side with the young players who they added winning the 2017 Confederation Cup.

I think they are stronger than in 2014.

I think Neymar could be Player of the Tournament. He’s lived under the shadow of Messi. He did well in 2014‚ and it was when he became injured that Brazil fell apart there.

Top goal-scorer I think can come from Neymar or perhaps Thomas Mueller.

I think David de Gea could win Goalkeeper of the Tournament because Manuel Neuer has not played for the whole season‚ though Brazil’s keeper Allison could be up there.

Achilles, a cat in St Petersburg reputed to have psychic powers, predicts who will win the first match of the World Cup.

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