South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has repeated his insistence that his side is still deep in the process of preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and a disappointing home draw with Namibia must be taken as such.
Parreira, who won the FIFA World Cup with Brazil and is now entrusted with forging a strong team for the 2010 hosts by June, admitted a home win over their neighbours in Wednesday’s warm-up friendly would have been ideal, but that there was no need to push any panic buttons.
South Africa had been hoping for a festive finish to this week’s celebrations, which were commemorating the 100 days to the FIFA World Cup finals marker, even though Parreira had decided against calling up his top foreign-based players for the preparatory game.
Instead he sought to run his eye over several fringe players and recall others who had not seen international action for a long time. There was still a sell-out crowd of 50,000 people at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, looking resplendent for the upcoming tournament, but Namibia were determined not to be walkovers and indeed forced South Africa to come from behind for the 1-1 draw.
“I was satisfied with our first half performance. We created chances, but it was our last pass, penetration and shooting that was not correct,” said Parreira, who has had three draws and a win in the four matches since he returned as Bafana Bafana coach in November. “A fair result should have been a win. It’s always a process and a lesson, and I was grateful for the opportunity to look again at some players who have not been with the team for so long. It was good to see them again, and it helps our decision-making for the World Cup. Everything is part of the process.”
The next step comes on Thursday when Parreira will name 28 players for a three-week training camp in Brazil. All but two of them are locally-based with Parreira also being given permission to take under-20 internationals Kermit Erasmus and Daylon Claassen from their Dutch clubs.
Parreira says he wants to work on fitness and experience and has lined up several matches against Brazilian clubs. South Africa will have a second training camp in Germany in April and then begin a third and final preparatory camp on home soil from 5 May.
“We want four friendlies against top class opposition before the World Cup, but we are still negotiating with potential opponents,” said Parreira. “We are working very hard, but it is not easy to get big teams to make the long journey here, but we are almost close to having two or three good teams. It's important for our players to play in front of good crowds so they can feel the pressure and feel the heat before the match against Mexico.”
South Africa open the FIFA World Cup finals on 11 June at Johannesburg’s Soccer City against Mexico before further Group A meetings with Uruguay and France.