Bafana have ‘Everest’ to conquer

2010-03-05 00:00

HOSTS Bafana Bafana will begin ascending Mount Everest in their effort to be ready for the World Cup when they depart for their month-long training camp in Brazil next week.

The 29-man squad for the camp was announced in Durban yesterday, following Bafana’s disappointing 1-1 friendly draw against Namibia at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday night.

This will be the second of four camps in build-up to 2010, following one in Durban in January. Bafana spend a month at the Adidas training facility in Germany in April before their final camp in SA building up to the June 11 World Cup kickoff.

SA Football Association CEO Leslie Sedibe evoked the “Everest” comparison made by coach Carlos Alberto Parreira after Bafana were drawn with Mexico, Uruguay and France at the final draw in December.

“Our coach said after the draw that we have a Mount Everest to climb. And I’m glad yesterday [Bafana’s draw against Namibia] happened the way it did because I think it was a wake-up call,” the CEO said.

In Brazil, Bafana will be based in Rio, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte (around four games). The South Africans will play first division clubs including Fluminense, Cruzeiro and Botafago.

South Africa will camp at the Granda Comary training facility of the Brazilian national team from March 7 to 21. They play Paraguay in a friendly in that country on March 31.

Parreira said: “I believe it’s going to be a huge opportunity for the boys to increase their experience and knowledge of football.

“This is the chance for us to build a foundation of the team because we cannot be expect to be joined by players based overseas.”

The coach said he had been organising the camp since he returned in November and this was not an easy process because Brazilian clubs are currently in full season.

The coach defended the benefit of the camp in Brazil.

“I took Kuwait … to Brazil and the benefits when we went back to our area was unbelievable.

“We qualified as the one Asian team for the Olympic games, beating Korea and Japan. We won the Asian Cup and qualified for the World Cup, and the Gulf Cup three times.

“I believe the camps will make our team.”

The coach was asked about the poor form of Teko Modise, and whether he hoped the camps could help the jaded playmaker return to a level of performance he displayed under Parreira in the Brazilian’s first stint with Bafana.

“The level of fitness [of the whole team] we saw against Namibia is not what we need for the World Cup,” Parreira said. “I’m sure part of the success in the Confederations Cup was that our fitness trainer, Francesco Gonzalez, did such a good job.

“We had the team for just six weeks and you saw what he [Gonzalez] could do. I’m sure with the work we do we will reach the right level.”

There were few surprises in a predominantly local-based squad, which consists mostly of players who have been repeatedly called up since Parreira’s first stint from 2007 to April 2008, and some who have staked a late claim since his return.

SA U20 internationals Kermit Erasmus of Excelsior Rotterdam and Daylon Claasen of Ajax Amsterdam are the only foreign-based players. Mamelodi Sundowns’ 18-year-old defender Siyanda Xulu is another youngster included.

Sundowns striker Surprise Moriri has been included having recently returned from injury.

In addition to the Paraguay friendly and a game against Denmark at Soccer City a week before Bafana’s 2010 opener against Mexico, Parreira said he wants three more games in May against top-class teams, including Argentina.

The Bafana technical team depart for Brazil on Sunday with the players leaving in two batches on Monday and Tuesday. The squad returns on April 6.

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Emile Baron (SuperSport United), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs)

Defenders: Matthew Booth, Siboniso Gaxa, Siyanda Xulu, Innocent Mdledle (all Sundowns), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport), Thabo Nthethe (Bloemfontein Celtic), Siyabonga Sangweni, Lucas Thwala (Pirates)

Midfielders: Franklin Cale, Surprise Moriri, Lebohang Mokoena (all Sundowns), Daylon Claasen (Ajax Amsterdam), Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), Andile Jali, Teko Modise (both Pirates), Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows), Daine Klate (SuperSport), Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Siphiwe Tshabalala (both Chiefs), Tlou Segolela (Celtic)

Strikers: Kermit Erasmus (Excelsior Rotterdam), Thulasizwe Mbuyane, Gert Schalkwyk (both Pirates), Katlego Mphela (Sundowns), Richard Henyekane (Arrows), Thulani Serero (Ajax CT)

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