Santana confident his job is not on the line

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pretoria - Head coach Joel Santana takes Bafana Bafana into another international friendly against Iceland tonight insisting he does not feel his job is on the line.

"I am not afraid for my job because I have the backing of the leadership of the South African Football Association (SAFA)," said the Brazilian coach, adding that he was confident the team's performance would improve.

Santana has come under pressure from South African fans after he led the national team to their worst-ever run, losing seven matches in a row out of eight games. He has, however, received strong backing from SAFA to turn the situation around.

On Saturday, Bafana Bafana lost 1-nil to Norway in Oslo in a friendly international match.

"We didn't play well in the first half against Norway, but in the second half I think we were much better, even though Norway got a goal.

"We tried to push more players forward, but it did not help and we weren't able to score," said Santana in a statement released by SAFA on Monday.

"All the matches that we have played so far with the big countries are away, so they have been difficult. I saw a video of Iceland in action and I must say they looked strong but we will go in there and fight," he said.

Bafana Bafana Captain, Aaron Mokoena, who has also felt the pressure from fans, believes the players will regroup against Iceland.

"Yes, it's very disappointing to work so hard and not get the desired results. We are very concerned about this but we have to remain optimistic.

"When we played Iceland back in 2005 they beat us 4-1, we are back here again and we have to try and reverse that result. As players we really want that win and it would be great to get it against Iceland."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Emille Baron has been declared fit to play against Iceland after he picked up a minor injury at training on Friday.

Bafana take on Iceland at the Laugardalsvollur Stadium in Reykjavik at 8pm.

Santana has two more games to play before the end of the year. Bafana will continue to test their strength with Japan and Jamaica in November.

Next year, Bafana will play more friendly matches ahead of the 2010 World Cup, according to the head coach.

"We are using these to prepare, and for us this was important to play such countries because these are the kind of matches and opponents we will face in the World Cup, which is the bigger picture," he said.