South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira believes his side will be more confident going into tomorrow's potentially crucial 2010 FIFA World Cup™ showdown with Uruguay having got their first game under their belts.
The pressure was on the host nation heading into Friday's curtain-raiser against Mexico and nerves looked to play a part as they struggled to get the ball off their dominant opponents in the first half. However, Bafana Bafana improved after the break and, having secured a 1-1 draw, Parreira believes they are in a better frame of mind heading into their second Group A fixture in Pretoria.
"I believe the most difficult game for us was the first one," he said. "The whole world was watching and the pressure was there. After we played the first game we felt more confident, even though we are now playing against a very good team like Uruguay, who have lots of players playing for the big teams in Europe. They have a lot of experience."
With both pool matches finishing in draws on the opening day, there is little to separate the four nations heading into the second round of games, with France meeting Mexico in the other match.
I believe the most difficult game for us was the first one. The whole world was watching and the pressure was there.
A victory at this stage would give the winner a major boost heading into the final games and, although Parreira knows nothing will be decided in terms of progression to the next phase, he believes tomorrow's game could be crucial.
"Now it's going to be an open game for us and for them because it's so tight. Those teams who want to qualify have to win at least one of the two games," he said. "It's very clear for everyone - for us, for France, for Mexico, for Uruguay. We've got to win one of the two games left or else it's going to be very difficult to qualify. Whoever wins tomorrow isn't guaranteed to go through. These two draws leave the competition open to the final round."
On a personal level, Parreira admits his cool and composed appearance does not tell the whole story ahead of tomorrow's clash. "This morning I woke up at five o'clock," he said. "I'm not stressed, I'm not panicked, but there is tension, I know the whole country is behind us. The whole country is expecting my team to deliver, but I've never told my players they have to reach the next round. They have to believe in themselves, to believe in the quality they have - like they did in the second half (against Mexico). Apparently, I look calm but inside I'm worried."
South Africa came close to taking all three points in their first match but were pegged back by Rafael Marquez's equaliser 11 minutes from time. Parreira revealed he is likely to keep faith with the majority of the side that played in that match for the game against Uruguay at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, but suggested his tactical approach to the game may differ.
The Brazilian was keen to keep his cards close to his chest, but said: "We might make one change but I haven't spoken to the players yet so I won't announce it. "It's going to be a similar team, with one change or maybe two. It's not time to change the team - it's time to give them encouragement.
"The approach to the game, the philosophy, will be a little bit different - I can't tell you why but it will be different," he added. "There is no other team in this World Cup like the Mexican team. The way they play is unusual. I'm not saying it's wrong because they've been doing well.
"They have an approach to the game completely different to all the other teams - with three strikers, attacking full-backs - and they do it well. They cause problems for everyone. Uruguay are different. They are solid in defence and have very good strikers. As I said before, there are no easy games in this group. It's one of the most difficult and most challenging of all the groups."