Parreira confident Bafana will reach knockout stages

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Johannesburg - Re-appointed Bafana Bafana coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira, is confident that his players will reach the knockout stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, despite its recent ailing performance.

"Our goal with the association (SAFA) is to have the team beyond the group stages which is achievable and after that the sky is the limit and anything can happen.

"This time we are no longer in the learning process, we must start winning games, the World Cup isn't far and we have to produce positive results.

"I'm confident that we will reach the knockout stages and possibly quarterfinals but the team needs national support," he said on Friday.

Bafana has turned out to be a laughing stock among local and international football enthusiasts following its below-par performance and losing eight successive games out of nine.

The South African Football Association (SAFA) had no other option but to recall the then national team Coach Joel Santana and reappoint his countryman, Parreira who on Friday outlined his plans and pledged to return Bafana's pride.

Flanked by SAFA Chief Executive Raymond Hack, the association's President Kirsten Nematandani and vice President Mandla Mazibuko at the press conference, the Brazilian confidently said he was not under pressure and was prepared to prove his critics wrong.

"Of course the team is out of form but that doesn't pose any pressure but a challenge to change the situation the other way around.

"I'm here to rebuild the winning mentality and to recover the fighting spirit. The team has lost confidence but it's not too late because I've worked with players before.

"In this difficult time the nation must embrace the team," he said, adding that if South Africans stopped putting pressure on them, surely their confidence would return.

Parreira's test will start on 14 November when Bafana Bafana lock horns with Japan in Port Elizabeth, then three days later play against Jamaica in Bloemfontein.

The Brazilian mentor will play these two international friendly matches knowing very well that South Africans want nothing but a win. Of course the victory will return players' confidence and morale.

"We have to win these matches. The team played well in the FIFA Confederations Cup and I have to add my expertise and prepare them to fight like warriors and start winning games," the coach said.

As part of his plans ahead of the World Cup, Parreira will early next year take the national team to a camp in Brazil where they will play at least ten games with local sides as well as neighboring countries.

"By taking them to Brazil we are definitely not wasting money but this will be a good exercise, we want to boost players' psychological strengths.

"We will also take them to a camp in Germany in April next year and play against European giants to strengthen them tactically, physically and psychologically.

"We have to win all these matches so that we will be able to fight against lions, hippos, tigers and giants of the football giants," he said.

Meanwhile, SAFA President Nematandani told reporters that the association's executive was fully behind Parreira and will provide all that is needed to return the pride of Bafana Bafana.

"We have engaged each other and we discussed very important issues regarding our way forward with the national team.

"As the executive, on behalf of South Africans, we want coach to take us to the knockout stages and possibly to the final. We all have to support him and our team ahead of the World Cup," he said.