Bafana have their backs to the World Cup wall

2009-12-05 10:31

Bafana Bafana head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira put on a brave

face but could not hide the fact that South Africa will have their backs to the

wall when they kick-off the 2010 World Cup finals against Mexico at Soccer City

in Johannesburg on June 11.

The draw made at the International Convention Centre by Fifa

secretary general Jerome Valcke and Hollywood star Charlize Theron did Bafana no


Also in Bafana’s Group A are two former world champions in France

and Uruguay.

Parreira, who won the World Cup with his native Brazil in the

United States in 1994, said that Group A was the most balanced group.

Parreira added “It is the only World Cup we cannot say who is the

Group of Death. There is no easy group. It is the best balanced World Cup in

history. We are the only group that has two former world champions in France and


Parreira, who rejoined Bafana in November after his countryman Joel

Santana quit after a disappointing 17 month reign, stated “This is the hand we

have been dealt and what we will have to face.

We have to prepare ourselves in a

possible way to make sure we go past the first round.

“I do not look at the first game. If we get a good result against

Mexico and lose against Uruguay and France it will not matter. We have to look

at the group as a whole and not focus on the first game. The bottom line is that

we face three difficult games and face them in a positive way.”

Bafana have played Mexico three times. They lost 4-0 in 1992 in Los

Angeles in a friendly, were beaten in Houston 4-2 in the United States Cup and

then defeated Mexico 2-1 in the Gold Cup in 2005.

Mexican coach Javier Aguirre was quietly confident after the draw.

But he stated that it would be tough playing the host nation in the opening game

of the tournament.

Bafana are the lowest ranked team to host the World Cup at

86th in the Fifa rankings but that is not what concerns the Mexican coach Said


“Playing against South Africa will be difficult because they have

home ground advantage. They know the weather, the pitches they will be playing

on and most importantly they will have their fans with their vuvuzelas.”

Another big factor in Bafana’s favour was Parreira, according to

the Mexican coach.

“Parreira coached Brazil to the World Cup in 1994 and is a highly

respected coach. Also playing against two former world champions is not going to

be easy. But we will be ready,” said Aguirre.

Bafana play France in their final group match in Bloemfontein on

June 22.

French coach Raymond Domenech said history meant nothing. “This is

not 1998 it will be a totally different game and an open one,” he said.

The French coach refused to comment on the infamous “Hand of Frog ”

in which French star striker Thierry Henry scored the winner after extra time

against Ireland in last month’s play-off.

France won that match 2-1 after extra

time which sparked cries of cheating from the Irish fans and players.

Bafana meet Uruguay at Loftus on June 16.

“We respect all three teams in the group. Mexico had bad results in

the qualifiers. But the recovered very well. No one can predict how this group

will turn out. June is the moment of truth,” said Uruguay coach Oscar


Bafana assistant coach Pitso Mosimane said that he was not scared

of the teams in the group. But said that Mexico posed a big challenge in the

opening game.

“Mexico have six players playing in top leagues in Europe. They

have come good under their new coach after a bad start to their qualifying

campaign. France are a world class side we all know that. Their players are

household names. Uruguay have some useful players such as their striker Diego

Forlan who play is Spain and will not be an easy side to beat,” he said.

But Mosimane was quietly confident: “We know that no matter which

teams we were paired against that the World Cup draw was not going to be easy.

At this level there are no easy teams.

We will rise to the occasion like we did

in the Confederations Cup where we took on Spain and Brazil and came close to

beating them. I believe the World Cup will be like the Confederations Cup and

that four points could be enough to see us through to the knockout stage.”

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