Rustenburg, South Africa:Spain and South Africa are looking at Sunday's Confederations Cup third-place match as an important part of their preparation for next year's World Cup.
South Africa's Brazilian coach Joel Santana is hoping his team can rebound from the 1-0 semifinal defeat to Brazil and finish the tournament on a positive note. the two teams played each other at the group stage, when Spain won 2-0.
"This tournament was our first real test, and we've seen what is possible. The players learned a lot about what the World Cup will be," Santana said on Saturday at Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
"This is preparation for the World Cup, so they should be motivated to play against the big teams. I need them to play the same for me. These are their opportunities to prepare for next year."
Santana said he may make up to four changes to try to surprise the European champions, who are coming off their first defeat since November 2006.
The United States' 2-0 semifinal win over Spain on Wednesday ended a record 15-game winning streak and left the Spanish level with Brazil for the longest unbeaten run in football at 35 games.
"We hope the defeat works for us in that we learn from the errors," Spain striker Fernando Torres said. "Now we'll go out looking to win third place, which we'll play like a final."
Not all of his teammates felt that way, with several Spain players saying they'd rather be on holiday following long domestic seasons. Whether Spain coach Vicente del Bosque fields a full strength lineup is unsure, but South Africa will be looking to exploit Spain's poor defensive coverage after two blunders allowed the Americans to score.
"It's an opportunity for everyone in the team to make history and to get more respect, which we deserve," said midfielder MacBeth Sibaya, who missed out against Brazil due to suspension. "If you win and play positively against Spain, we will have a lot more confidence. Going for third is a great reward."
Santana expected his players to send the crowd home happy and let potential 2010 rivals know South Africa will not be a walkover host come 2010.
"What's important is that we entered this tournament as an outsider and now we have earned some respect," Santana said.