Positive Parker keeps the faith
South Africa forward Bernard Parker, who inadvertently prevented Bafana Bafana from scoring a late winner in their FIFA Confederations Cup opener against Iraq, has underlined his belief that the host nation can still reach the semi-finals.
"The reality is, we need to snap out of it, we have to think about the next game," Parker told FIFA.com in the wake of 14 June's 0-0 draw at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, a game in which South Africa spurned a host of goalscoring opportunities. "It is important for us to get maximum points against New Zealand, but we're also planning for the game against Spain. We can't talk about the Iraq game forever."
"Some people might say we don't have a chance, but I don't think that's true," said the Boksburg-born front-runner, who plays his club football in eastern Europe with Crvena Zvezda. "If we can keep this form going, then I think we can do well against any team. We just need to be lucky, we need luck on our side."
"In football, you need some luck and, against Iraq, I think we were unlucky. We did everything right, we attacked a lot, we took a lot of shots at goal, but we simply couldn't put that ball in the net," said Parker, whose team will be determined to make amends against Ricki Herbert's All Whites on 17 June in Rustenburg. "I'm sure we will spend the next few days before our clash with New Zealand thinking about the (Iraq) game."
Chief among those thoughts will no doubt be the moment he unwittingly blocked Kagisho Dikgacoi's goal-bound header in the 84th minute of the Opening Match. "I think that after that I stopped thinking for a while, I felt so bad: it was a horrible experience," said Parker. "But these things happen in football. KG (Dikgacoi) understands that, he knows that I wouldn't have blocked his goal on purpose. It was a mistake, an honest mistake."
And in the absence of Benni McCarthy, Bafana Bafana's leading scorer of all time, can Parker ably fill the Blackburn Rovers hitman's goal-laden shoes? "In football there is pressure, there is pressure everywhere, but you need to get results," said Parker, as the interview drew to a closer. "As a player, you just have to learn to live with it."