Parreira: Bafana’s final 23 coming together with each game

2010-05-26 00:00

WITH each friendly Bafana Bafana play, coach Carlos Alberto Parreira becomes clearer in his mind about who will make his final 23-man World Cup squad and the starting XI in the opening game against Mexico at Soccer City on June 11.

The coach said after Bafana Bafana’s 1-1 draw against 39th-ranked Bulgaria at Orlando Stadium on Monday night that his plan is coming together. He will use tomorrow’s warm-up match against Columbia at Soccer City to continue trying different combinations and re-integrating the overseas-based players with locally based players who have been part of training camps in Brazil and Germany.

Bafana’s overseas contingent mostly arrived last week, and three — Aaron Mokoena, Kagisho Dikgacoi and Tsepo Masilela — were introduced as substitutes in the second half against Bulgaria.

Steven Pienaar, who was rested before joining the squad, is likely to make his first appearance against Columbia either as a starter or off the bench.

Bafana play one more yet-to-be-named opponent on Saturday before the June 1 deadline for Parreira to name his final squad, then Denmark at Loftus on June 5.

Bafana’s locally based starters at times ran Bulgaria ragged in the first half on Monday night, before a less cohesive second-half performance after the introduction of the long-absent foreign players.

“We did not play just any team,” Parreira stressed. “We played a team that has been together for three weeks playing three games. And they respected us here … we faced a team with nine players always behind the ball.

“And we were not intimidated by them. We played, we held the ball, we created chances, we scored one goal.

“In the second half, things were a bit different because we made six changes, which we had to make because in a week’s time we have to give 23 names to Fifa. And we have to be sure what we are going to do, so we’re giving players an opportunity to stay on the list.”

Parreira said a final 23 is taking shape in his mind with each game Bafana play, though the continued starring performances of a new player to the team, Golden Arrows’ Thanduyise Khuboni, have created a pleasant headache for the coach.

“I know what we want, and with every game it gets clearer. What I enjoy is that the competition is very tough between the overseas-based players and, let’s say, home-based players.

“We don’t have home and overseas, we have a South African team here. So it’s good for the coach when you see a boy like Khuboni, who has never played in the national team before, but in every game in Brazil he was the best player on the ground, and the last two games here he was the best player.

“And he played against big boys tonight and a well-established team. It gives me a good headache when I see I have guys like “KG” [Kagisho Dikgacoi], Macbeth Sibaya and Khuboni, and I have to make a tough decision there. But it’s a good problem, to have to select between good players.

“And don’t forget Steven Pienaar must still come in, so the level of the team is going to rise, undoubtedly.”

The Bafana coach was particularly pleased with Bafana’s possession play against Bulgaria, where they easily enjoyed the lion’s share of the ball and territorial advantage.

“The not giving away of the ball has improved so much. In the beginning we were giving the ball away a lot.

“Now we need the penetration and last pass, to go forward a little bit more and to have the fullbacks going deeper to improve the quality of the delivery.

“The covering of spaces, not giving the ball away easily, having possession and imposing our style on the opponent — tonight it was very clear.”

After Mexico, Bafana face Uruguay in Group A in Pretoria on June 16, then France in Bloemfontein on June 22.

 

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