Two home games, two goalless draws: that is the record Carlos Alberto Parreira holds since his recent return to the South Africa hot-seat following an 18-month recess. However, not even those lacklustre results against Japan and Jamaica have dampened the Brazilian coach’s belief that Bafana Bafana will be a force to be reckoned with at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
“I see light at the end of the tunnel,” Parreira told FIFA.com. “When we have this team up to a good level of fitness, they will prove far more competitive. This side has played at a high level before. When I worked here the first time we beat Paraguay 3-0, and that’s the standard I want the team to get back to.
“The matches against Brazil and Spain this year [single-goal defeats at the FIFA Confederations Cup] also showed what we can do when the team is ready. When the key players are in good shape and fit, the standard of the team will improve quickly. I have no doubt about it.”
Parreira admitted he was desperate for a victory to mark his return to the helm, and the side’s return to winning ways following a poor run of form under his predecessor Joel Santana.
“It would have been really good to have won and I’m disappointed we didn’t,” he lamented. “The results didn’t help, they didn’t make me happy. But I was happy with the performance during the two games. Now we have to think about the future.”
The 66-year-old will now turn his focus to a training camp in his native Brazil in March, when he will have four weeks to work with his squad, albeit without those based with European clubs. Encouragingly, South Africa’s domestic season is being curtailed to afford Parreira more time with his charges ahead of the 19th edition of the FIFA World Cup.
“We’ll be able to get them into good shape,” he vowed. “They will be with us for four weeks. We are going to go to Brazil. We are hoping to play about six games against good opposition. It is going to be very beneficial.
“We have to believe in the players we have. We have to keep the confidence and play to our strengths. Ball possession is important: keeping the ball, circulating it on the ground, playing possession football. It was very clear that when we do this we are a much better team.
”Of course, if you include our fullbacks overlapping, it is even better. In our system, we need overlapping fullbacks. We love to see our fullbacks supporting and overlapping. You don’t attack only with one striker, you attack as a team.”
Parreira was not in charge during South Africa’s run to the semi-finals of the FIFA Confederations Cup in June, but says he saw enough there to know there is hope.
“You have to count the Confederations Cup as a starting point. The players had been together for a while, they were very fit. That’s what will happen before the World Cup too.”