Parreira content with Bafana showing

2009-11-16 00:00

THERE was a moment that summed up the game in the latter stages of Bafana Bafana’s 0-0 friendly draw against Japan at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.

Substitute Bernard Parker gathered the ball on the edge of the area and thought for a second of shooting from a good position before opting to pass backwards — to a Japanese player.

The first international at the beautiful stadium marked the return of coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, and brought 2010 fever to Port Elizabeth.

It was a fair, and even promising, first result back for Parreira, though also an at times frustrating performance and there is much work to be done to get Bafana into World Cup condition, a point the coach readily admitted.

Before the game, midfielder Macbeth Sibaya pointed out that Bafana need to learn to play the big games. They were certainly given a tough workout by the Japanese, who, like South Africa, were not at their attacking best.

Japan, though, were exceptionally well organised. The Asians came into the game on the back of some impressive victories, beating Togo 5-0 (home), Scotland 2-0 (H), Hong Kong 6-0 (H) and Ghana 4-3 in the Netherlands, scoring 17 goals to three in their last four games.

Bafana were on the fortunate side to come away with a draw, two fine saves by goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs keeping his side in the game.

The visitors’ passing was quick and uncomplicated, while the South Africans took too much time on the ball, lacked penetration and seemed to lack confidence to pass forwards more.

“It’s a new beginning. Of course I always say that the best result is when you win. But you have to consider so many points about this game,” Parreira said.

“We played against a good, well organised and experienced team. We saw their last five games and were very impressed.

“We fielded some players who I consider very important to the build-up to the World Cup like [Teko] Modise and [Siphiwe] Tshabalala, who we know are not at their best.

“Kagisho Dikgacoi has barely played for new club Fulham. Anele Ngcongca played his first game in the national team and Morgan Gould was playing his fourth game.

“Putting this all together I consider the result fair. I think we did well. We need to improve a lot of things. We cannot get that in three training sessions.

“We need to have more possession. And of course the penetration and shooting. We need to put more weight into the opponents’ box and the build-ups should be quicker. This will come naturally with time. It was just a beginning. And from now on, of course, we have to aim higher.”

The match also saw the return of Benni McCarthy, who is clearly overweight. The Blackburn Rovers striker showed some good touches holding up the ball, but looked sluggish in the turn in front of goal.

“It’s not only his physical condition,” Parreira said. “He’s been out of the national team for a long time. It was the first time he played with [Katlego] Mphela. But for sure I believe that in good shape and with good training he can be useful.

“He is the only striker who can hold the ball up-front under pressure. He knows the game at a high level. We need to give him time.

“He’s not playing for his club regularly, which is very clear. We made tests with all the players and the level of conditioning is not up to what’s expected for a team playing in a World Cup.

“But we are not worried because we will have training camps to have the players in the necessary shape for the World Cup.”

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