2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

11 June - 11 July

2010 FIFA World Cup™

Bafana hit their stride

It took 12 years and ten matches for South Africa to finally get their maiden win over South American opposition - but when it finally came it was in fine style.

Bafana Bafana (the Boys) achieved the feat in emphatic fashion yesterday with a 3-0 thumping of an in-form Paraguay team who currently top the South American qualifying standings for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa after four rounds.

The South Africans' first match against South American opponents was a 1-1 draw with Argentina back in May 1995 and four draws in nine games was their only return until last night. Fittingly, it was with revered Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira in charge that Bafana broke their South American duck at Tshwane's Super Stadium.

It was a fantastic result an elated Parreira said would "send echoes" around the footballing world.

Those teams in the upper echelons of world football would hardly be quaking in their boots just yet, given that South Africa are currently sandwiched between Uzbekistan and Costa Rica in a lowly 71st place in the FIFA/Coca-Cola world ranking and are only the 17th best team in Africa after a tame first round exit at the recent CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana.

Nevertheless, it was a hugely significant win for the 2010 hosts who are very much in a rebuilding phase after a period of steady freefall in international football in recent years.

France, Korea Republic (co-hosting with Japan) and Germany have shown in the last three FIFA World Cup tournaments just how important it is for the success of the tournament for the hosts to put in a good showing and South Africa will be under tremendous pressure to do just that in 2010.

Parreira has tried to retain the experienced core of his squad, while at the same time bringing in a number of talented locally-based youngsters.

The Paraguay win came on a record-breaking night, on which Blackburn Rovers striker Benni McCarthy scored his 30th international goal to became the country's all-time top scorer and his Blackburn teammate Aaron Mokoena won his 74th cap to draw level with former Charlton striker Shaun Bartlett as the team's most capped player.

Locally-based Mamelodi Sundowns striker Surprise Moriri opened the scoring with a fine first-half volley, with McCarthy heading in the second and Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala getting the third from long range in a game when all finally fell into place for Parreira's team.

"Confidence is built by results. 3-0 was a good result for us. We deserved it and we worked for it. I said before this game that it's time for us to start winning. We want development in the team and results and this game was very promising," Parreira told FIFA.com after the game.

Dominance on the day
It wasn't only the result that pleased Parreira, it was the dominating nature of the performance against an experienced team ranked 21st in the world, who have thrashed Ecuador 5-1 and Chile 3-0 in their last two 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.

"I am not only happy with the result, I am happy with the performance of the team on the ground against a big team. They imposed themselves on Paraguay. Our strength is skill and technique, we can't run away from that. We're good when we put the ball on the ground and we did that in this game. I am so happy. This gives us a good push. Paraguay play Brazil in their next qualifying game and this result will have echoes abroad," said Parreira.

While fully aware of the fact that Parreira's Bafana team are a young, inexperienced outfit, South African football fans have nevertheless shown signs of impatience with the coach's development plans for the team.

The Paraguay result, however, was the perfect riposte for the Brazilian coach.

"I learnt long ago in my professional life one lesson I believe is important to everybody: Mother Nature does not produce junk. It's a process and I believe we are on the right track. We know what we're doing. We're checking players and giving shape to the team. We have to be a little patient in this process. We have to renovate the team, build and then get results," said Parreira.

He's won many a match with the best in the business in a long, distinguished career. This is one, though, is one he will savour.

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