‘We will surprise many people’

2010-05-21 00:00

BEING the surprise package of the World Cup has been the target Carlos Alberto Parreira has repeatedly set for Bafana Bafana, and yesterday the coach proclaimed himself satisfied that the hosts are on course to achieve that aim.

Speaking in a press conference after Bafana’s training session at Marks Park Sports Club in Johannesburg, Parreira said he feels Bafana are on the verge of making history at next month’s tournament.

Yesterday was the first training session, after two month-long camps in Brazil and Germany with local-based players, and since the beginning of this final camp, that all the Bafana players were present barring Steven Pienaar. The Everton midfielder has been given a few days’ rest after a gruelling season.

And for once Parreira was able to pronounce himself pleased with the condition of the overseas-based players who have joined the provisional 30-man squad.

“Most of them arrived three days ago. With all of them the medical and physical examination showed that this time they have come in good shape,” Parreira said.

“Kagisho Dikgacoi, Tsepo Masilela and Anele Ngcongca have all been playing for their clubs. And when Pienaar comes I’m sure he will be in good shape because he played 28 games in the last three months.”

The process of integrating the overseas players takes place during Bafana’s three remaining World Cup warm-ups against Bulgaria at Orlando Stadium on Monday, Columbia at Soccer City on Thursday and Denmark in Atteridgeville on June 5.

Parreira said he will start with the same team against Bulgaria that beat Thailand 4-0 in Nelspruit on Sunday, adding players as substitutes in the second half.

“I told the players very clearly: we don’t have overseas players and local players, we have a national team,” the coach said.

“The fact that we have been with the local players for two months does not guarantee anyone a place in the team. Also, the fact that you are an overseas-based player will not give you a position.

“This will be decided in the next four friendly matches we play. I will make combinations and get almost everybody involved. And then we start deciding on the team for the opening match.”

On the fitness of Benni McCarthy, whose out-of-shape condition has made headlines, Parreira said: “I have spoken to Benni. He did not come in an ideal condition. He was injured after his move to West Ham, broke his training programme for six weeks then went to the bench.

“But he is giving his best now and having special treatment with the nutritionist and physical trainer Francesco [Gonzalez]. His weight is down and condition better. I told him he’ll be given one half in the friendlies on the 27th and 31st to show us if he is ready for the competition or not.”

Parreira said the focus in the camp has not been disturbed by the McCarthy issue.

“We are focused within the team and not outside. We are happy with the work, the players, the camp is so satisfying. And this gives me the confidence that we are going to make a very good World Cup. We are bound to make history – this is what we want.

“I’ve been with many national teams and in many camps. In this camp the players are as committed as in any camp I did before.

“The boys are very confident. I can tell you we will surprise many people in the World Cup.”

Parreira said it is 90% guaranteed that one more friendly will be arranged against one of three middle-ranked teams on May 31. Brazil, Italy, Agentina and Germany were invited but, said Parreira, did not want to risk playing the host nation before the World Cup.

“It’s not important which team we play. The way we play is important. Even Brazil are going to play minor teams. I was happy with the way we played against Thailand, not because of Thailand but because of the good things we did in the game. I know what I demanded from the players and I know what they did. And I believe that they can do it against a bigger team.

“I need this one game more because the overseas players need to be integrated.”

Asked if he has an idea yet which players will be in his final 23, Parreira replied: “We have an idea but in football the acts can change your mind. That’s what these friendly games are for.”

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