Parreira: Bafana are ready

2010-06-07 00:00

BAFANA Bafana are ready for the World Cup, coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said after the team’s 1-0 warm-up victory over Denmark at the Super Stadium in Atteridgeville on Saturday.

And the South Africans could not have asked for a better confidence boost than their inspired victory.

The momentum of Bafana’s list of impressive friendly results has progressed in tandem with the growth of support they have received.

As South Africa have shown improvement, so the fans have returned to the stands and the atmosphere stepped up in intensity match by match.

This in turn has had the effect of lifting an already keyed-up national team, who are now unbeaten in 12 games and who coach Carlos Alberto Parreira says have been sold the idea of working like demons to be successful at the World Cup.

The togetherness, mental toughness and physical conditioning, which were perhaps the leading aspects the coaching staff worked on during training camps in Brazil, Germany and now Johannesburg, were clearly evident on Saturday.

For so long Bafana’s Achilles heel, aside from goal-scoring, has been sheer lack of confidence, especially when confronted by well drilled, big-name European opposition.

Following Saturday’s victory against classy, 36th-ranked World Cup qualifiers Denmark, the South Africans can go into their World Cup opener against Mexico at Soccer City on Friday knowing for sure that they can compete with the world’s best.

“This is a very special win for us because it’s not just a win, but one against a very good team, a very experienced team,” Parreira said afterwards.

“They have five players in the national team with an average of almost 80 games. And we played with confidence.

“It has showed in all our warm-up results that the preparation was okay. And especially this one — the way it was shaped, playing with personality and confidence, and to the best strength we have of technique and ball on the ground, and taking care of the high balls.

“The result shows that the path we have taken has been the right one. I believe that the team showed that we are ready for the World Cup.”

Pleasing for Bafana was the performance of Kaizer Chiefs’ Reneilwe Letsholonyane, who bossed the midfield with his work-rate, challenges and intelligent passing, including a superb delivery that put Katlego Mphela through for a 76th-minute goal.

The players are in peak physical condition, which has resulted in significantly improved performances. Intelligent central defender Bongani Khumalo had another stormer next to captain Aaron Mokoena.

The defence were solid and composed against the probing Danes and Lucas Thwala, in the absence of the rested Tsepo Masilela, again showed Bafana have quality cover at left-back.

Asked if he has an idea what his final XI will be against Mexico, Parreira replied: “The good thing is I have options — I will decide during the week. Today’s game left me some thoughts to think about.”

Parreira said the growing support for Bafana has lifted the team.

“People are supporting the team because we have given people the confidence that the team is improving.

“I read in a newspaper, ‘Spectators fall in love with Bafana Bafana again’. This is good and the biggest recognition for us of the work the boys are doing.

“People in this country are not asking for much — they are asking for us to make them proud. And today I was happy to see almost everyone in the stadium wearing a Bafana Bafana jersey.

“Today we are proud of our team and our preparation. But the job hasn’t finished yet — it is just starting.”

Bafana could have beaten Denmark by more, with Teko Modise spurning two clearcut chances in the first half.

Mphela’s goal was sheer class, running past the challenge of Patrick Mtiliga and finishing coolly.

Denmark’s best chance came in injury time and Itumeleng Khune was up to the task of the save, showing why he is Bafana’s No. 1 ’keeper.

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