Bafana feeling confident in Brazil, says Walters

2010-03-27 00:00

SHU-AIB Walters says the mood in the Bafana Bafana training camp in Brazil is high and that the month-long expedition to the football-mad country will stand South Africa in good stead when they take to the field in the 2010 World Cup in June and July.

Maritzburg United goalkeeper Walters passed his fitness test in Durban on Tuesday and flew to Brazil on Wednesday as a replacement for the injured Emille Baron, arriving in time to be a somewhat jet-lagged spectator of Bafana’s 2-1 training game victory against club team Ponte Preto on Thursday.

Speaking yesterday from Bafana’s base in the city of Itu, at the world-class Traffic Football Academy, Walters said spirits are high in the South African camp, as the team has gone unbeaten in all seven training games in Brazil, conceding just one goal.

“The atmosphere here is very good. All the players are looking stronger and stronger every day, and the guys have been playing some good football,” the keeper said.

“There have been a lot of games and this has allowed for the combinations to come together — and the guys are gelling.

“Everyone’s excited about being in Brazil, and spending so much time together has allowed a good team spirit to grow.”

The goalkeeper said he has not had an indication yet whether he might be fielded in Bafana Bafana’s next training game against Desportivo Brasil, scheduled for tonight.

Walters said the matches in Brazil have allowed coach Carlos Alberto Parreira and his coaching staff to experiment with various combinations.

“Playing a lot of matches every few days has been better than one friendly every few months because everyone has been able to get a chance, and it seems to have really helped with the gelling and the combinations.

“The coaching staff have been able to evaluate different combinations in every game and see what the best ones are, and who gels together best in the various departments.

“The fitness of the players has also shown a big improvement. In the game I watched against Ponte Preto, where we won 2-1, you could see our side was a lot fitter than theirs.

“They started the game on top in the first 20 minutes and scored first. It was a home game and they were used to their own quite bumpy pitch. But once our guys got used to the pitch, we were on top for the rest of the game and scored twice, and you could see that our superior fitness counted.

“Once we were on top we created quite a few chances. You could see the guys were following the coach’s instructions on possession, and keeping their shape.”

Walters said he feels the camp has been very worthwhile for Bafana, as part of their 2010 preparations.

“Obviously there are a lot of positives to have come out of the camp, and you can see them when you arrive here.

“The team has gained experience, adapting to different situations and atmospheres. The players’ fitness has been worked on and the nutrition is controlled all the time.

“Everyone looks like they’re in good shape, the team spirit is high and I definitely think the camp will prove to be beneficial for Bafana come the 2010 World Cup.”

Bafana coach Parreira said of Bafana’s victory against Ponte Preto: “This was one of the best games we have played during this camp.

“This was a real game where players from both sides showed a lot of commitment. I am happy about the results, but more so the ability to come from behind despite so much pressure being heaped on us by Ponte Preto.

“My boys played really well, keeping that much-needed shape we have been working on over the past two-and-a-half weeks. I was impressed that they showed some fighting spirit after being a goal down.”

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