2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

11 June - 11 July

2010 FIFA World Cup™

Parreira proud of Bafana babes

While South African officials sat scratching their head over a clash of dates with the country's cup final and a national team fixture, Carlos Alberto Parreira seized the initiative.

Initially, South Africa were seeking a postponement of their Cosafa Castle Cup date in Swaziland, as the four team tournament, against the host nation, Malawi and Mauritius as a number of their first-choice players would be unavailable due to club commitments.

However, Parreira was adamant that he should take up the challenge with a number of new faces in his squad.

He told FIFA.com: "When we found out about the clash, I said: 'Let's look on the bright side. It's a wonderful opportunity to try out new faces, but still, let's take it seriously'."

And so, South Africa, minus players from cup finalists Ajax Cape Town and Mamelodi Sundowns, headed to Swaziland to compete in Group B of the Cosafa Castle Cup mini- tournament, a physically demanding two matches in two games event to determine a berth in the semi-finals of the annual southern Africa championship.

Parreira spent much of his time at the Somhlolo National stadium clutching his sore ribs, as he broke four of them in a fall, but he forgot about the pain when he saw his young charges win the tournament.

Originally, the 67-year-old had not intended travelling to Swaziland after spending the previous weekend in hospital. His doctors advised him to only travel for a day, but Parreira stayed for the entire weekend, using it as an opportunity to scrutinize new talent for Bafana Bafana.

"When we made the squad announcement for this game, I made it clear this was all about preparing for the future," continued Parreira. "Normally this competition is not taken too seriously because people don't think it is prestigious, but I think the boys used it in the best possible way."

The debutants' ball
The chance to throw players on the fringes of national selection into the rigours of international competition was not one that Parreira was going to miss.

In all, the Brazilian handed 13 players their international debuts over the two matches and said he was thrilled at the application, aptitude and potential on display.

However, South Africa's inexperienced side were forced to battle to get past Malawi, squandering two gilt-edged second half chances before winning last Saturday's opening match in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

In Sunday's Group B final, it was a one-sided contest against a cautious Mauritius team, who preferred to try and soak up the pressure and did not venture much past their own half-way line.

In meant a lot of possession for South Africa during their 2-0 win, which was also pleasing for Parreira, who is a keen believer of keeping and moving the ball at pace before trying to penetrate the opponent's defence.

"We were well co-ordinated, we gave no chance for the other teams," he smiled. "We didn't make any mistakes at the back. We played well as a unit. As for ball possession, it will take us time to learn to keep the ball and at the same time us it with speed and direction. We cannot go from night to day so quickly.

"We achieved our objectives. Firstly we have qualified for the semi-finals and got some match practice. Secondly, I have seen some new talent and learned what they can do. I am very pleased."

Explore this topic