Parreira praises fitness trainer

2008-01-11 00:00

Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has praised the work done by fitness trainer Francesco Gonzalez in bringing the squad up to speed physically in the African Nations Cup training camp being held at Chatsworth Stadium.

Fellow Brazilian Gonzalez has been brought in by Parreira to have Bafana in peak condition for the Nations Cup finals, which begin in Ghana on January 20.

Speaking after yesterday’s training session, Parreira said he is pleased at the progress made in the first week of South Africa’s training camp.

"The preparation has been good so far. The players’ efforts have been outstanding, the chemistry is there of a winning team, and the players are dedicated.

"But this is only one week of training. We would like that this kind of preparation could last two weeks, but we cannot, because we have to play [matches next week] as well."

Under Gonzalez, Bafana have been concentrating on fitness this week, before turning their attention to tactics next week, with friendlies against Mozambique on Sunday (4 pm) and Botswana on Wednesday.

"Physical fitness is important but it is not enough to win a competition," Parreira said. "It is important but the team organisation, the tactical discipline, the quality of the team and finding the right balance are also very important."

The coach said one of Gonzalez’s main tasks has been to bring the locally-based players, who have been inactive over the PSL’s Christmas break, in line with the fitness levels of the European-based players.

"You could see that he [Gonzalez] is a professional. He has been engaged in two World Cups and with four national teams. He has experience and he knows what to do.

"I think he has done a wonderful job and we could not ask for more. A physical trainer can not make miracles in a week, but of course the condition of the players will be good for the competition, I am sure about that."

Journalists yesterday were surprised by a snub by midfielder Steven Pienaar, who joined the camp on Tuesday having been held back by his club Everton. The Toffees had been hoping to play Pienaar in Tuesday night’s League Cup semi-final against Chelsea, but were ordered to release the player by Fifa, at the insistence of the SA Football Association.

Pienaar’s name was down as one of the players who would do interviews. When Bafana communications manager Sifiso Cele instructed the media not to ask questions relating to his late arrival, journalists protested, resulting in the midfielder storming out without giving an interview.

South Africa are in a tough group for the Nations Cup along with 2002 finalists and 2006 semi-finalists Senegal, 2004 winners Tunisia and and 2006 World Cup qualifiers Angola. Bafana open their campaign against Angola on January 23 in Tamale.

The South Africans are hoping for an improvement on their last campaign, where they failed to score a goal and lost all three group stage games.

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