Secret weapon?

2010-05-16 11:05

Bafana Bafana have played four countries ranked above 100 in the

world while their first opponents at the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Mexico, have lined

up friendlies against three top 10 ranked countries.

Holland (4), Italy (5) and England (8) are Mexico’s three opponents

ranked in the top 10 bracket.

A quick glance at Bafana’s opponents since the beginning of the

year until the eve of the event shows that all their opponents are ranked above

30.

Those ranked above 100 include today’s Mbombela Stadium opponents

Thailand, who are placed 105th and have never qualified for the World Cup.

They have also played against Swaziland (131), Zimbabwe (113),

Namibia (112) and North Korea (106).

This is hardly the ideal preparation situation for a host country,

and it does not end there.

Some of the blunders in the build-up to the World Cup have

included:

» Failure to secure a base camp timeously

»?Banning team manager Sipho ­Nkumane’s form accompanying the team

to their Brazil camp

» No agreement on the players’ pay structure with less than a month

to go

» Appointment of Carlos Parreira’s nephew (Carlos Eduardo Parreira)

as one of the physical trainers. One player was quoted in a daily newspaper,

saying: “The guy hasn’t got a clue what he is doing.”

As if that was not enough, Parreira revealed on Friday that he was

not happy with striker Benni McCarthy’s fitness.

McCarthy joined the team on Wednesday and has been hard at work

since he jetted into the country, but according to Parreira, he must first shape

up before he can be considered for the final team.

Parreira challenged McCarthy to get himself back into shape before

the World Cup.

However, he said the technical team would support the West Ham

player.

“He has not been playing at his club and that has affected his

fitness level. He was also out with injury and he needs time to get into shape.

We won’t rush him into playing as we are working on his confidence,” he

said.

Parreira explained that all he wanted was for the team to play,

irrespective of the ­calibre of the opponents. This is a contradiction, coming

from a man who recently took a swipe at the SA Football Association for failing

to organise top teams that would give his team stiffer competition ahead of the

June 11 kick-off.

He said as much as he would be seeking positive results, his focus

would also be on good performance.

“At this stage of the preparations it does not matter who we play,

but I have no doubt all the games will test us,” said Parreira.

After Thailand, Bafana will play Bulgaria at Soccer City on May 24,

Colombia (May 27, Green Point) and Denmark (June 5, ­Loftus). Parreira said he

wanted a fifth game before the World Cup gets underway.

“You cannot judge a team on training performance and we want to

integrate the overseas-based players with the locals in a game situation because

for now we will play some of these games without all the players.”

Parreira said they were still negotiating with Argentina but had

three other countries waiting if they fail to reach an agreement.


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