‘Respect everyone, fear nobody’

2010-06-02 00:00

ASKED if Bafana Bafana will play attacking football at the 2010 World Cup, or go out showing respect to their opponents, coach Carlos Alberto Parreira came up with a clever response.

Drawing on the words of a “very old and famous coach in Brazil”, Parreira explained what Bafana’s philosophy will be in Group A against Mexico, Uruguay and France.

“The coach used to say that football is like lying with a short blanket. When you have the blanket too low, then your face is exposed. When the blanket is too high then your feet are exposed,” the Brazilian World Cup-winner said. “You have to have a balance.”

The coach continued: “The game today is about compactness, and then counter-attacking with speed. In Europe, it’s called a transition.

“From your defence, within 10 seconds you are in the opponent’s area. Barcelona are the best team in the world with this style and we have used a lot of these principles.”

Announcing Bafana Bafana’s final 23-man squad for the World Cup at a press conference in Johannesburg, Parreira said the team are ready for the competition.

Bafana’s improvement since Parreira’s return to replace Joel Santana in November, and following training camps in Durban, Brazil and Germany, has been clear in the team’s friendly warm-up games — a 4-0 win over Thailand, a 1-1 draw against Bulgaria, a 2-1 victory against Colombia and a 5-0 thrashing of Guatemala.

“The shape is there, the ball on the ground. And most important for me is that we have started scoring goals,” Parreira said.

“In the last four games, the average is three goals per game. Don’t think Guatemala is an easy team — our team played well. The principles of the game were applied.

“We also proved this when we played Cruzeiro in Brazil and Paraguay in Paraguay, and Bulgaria, which was our best game for me as a coach.

“They are a team who missed out on the World Cup by a single point and we put them on the back foot and controlled the entire 90 minutes.

“We beat an experienced, full-strength Colombia, who have always caused trouble for any South American team, and who three days previously drew with Nigeria in London.

“So we have to respect everybody, but don’t need to fear anybody.”

Parreira’s surprise exclusion was South Africa’s top scorer with 32 goals from 79 games, Benni McCarthy, presumably because the West Ham stri­ker has not reached a level of fitness to compete at a World Cup.

The coach said the final decision over which players to exclude was “based on the physical condition, the technical level, the tactical point of view, discipline, and on the team dynamics.

“Whether the player has a role to play in the team or not, how useful he would be during the competition — of the five players excluded, some did not fulfil one principle or another.”

Goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez, left-back Innocent Mdledle, left wing Franklin Cale and right-back Bryce Moon were also left out of the squad.

Parreira said he has been satisfied with the strength of opposition Bafana have faced in their warm-ups.

“We don’t need five strong games in 15 days. We would work the players too hard ahead of the competition,” he said.

“Mexico have played Gambia in their warm-ups and Brazil have Zimbabwe and Tanzania. What is important is your team going there and playing your game.

“If I didn’t have these three tough games against Bulgaria, Columbia, and Denmark, I would be worried. But having these three, I am fully satisfied with the preparation. We also had three tough games during the training camp in Brazil.”

Bafana’s final warm-up against Denmark in Atteridegville on Saturday will give the team a good indication of their level of readiness for the World Cup. Unlike South Africa’s opposition so far, the Danes have qualified for the tournament and will be keen for a confidence-boosting win.

“The result does not matter,” Parreira said.

“Winning, of course, is so important, but the performance is much more important. When everybody performs as a team and a unit, the team is ready to get good results.”

Bafana Bafana’s World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers: Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Shu-aib Walters (Maritzburg United)

Defenders: Matthew Booth (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa/ISR), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth/ENG, capt.), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk/BEL), Siyabonga Sangweni (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates)

Midfielders: Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fulham/ENG), Thanduyise Khuboni (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Surprise Moriri (Mamelodi Sundowns), Steven Pienaar (Everton/ENG), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan/RUS)

Strikers: Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyabonga Nomvete (Moroka Swallows), Bernard Parker (FC Twente/NED)

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