SA’s boys doing well in Brazil

2010-03-20 00:00

BAFANA Bafana’s Brazil camp appears to be yielding the results coach Carlos Alberto Parreira intended it to, with a string of impressive results against some of the country’s top club sides.

Reports from Brazil are that the camp at the world-class Granja Comary training facility of the Brazilian national team has already started yielding results in getting the players to a good level of fitness.

And the South Africans have yet to concede a goal in five training games, with a goalless draw against Cruzeiro in one of the toughest outings Bafana are expected to face ahead of their friendly international against Paraguay on March 31.

The match against Cruzeiro at the 76 000-seater Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s third largest city, on Wednesday night, was played in front of a big crowd against a top Brazilian club, who reportedly were taking the game very seriously.

The following day a second-string Bafana beat Cruzeiro’s reserves 2-0. These two matches followed three games in three days, a 0-0 draw against Volta Redonda on Saturday, an 8-0 victory against Fluminense’s reserves on Sunday, and 2-0 win against Boavista on Monday, as Parreira mixed and matched his starting line-ups.

Reports from Belo Horizonte are that goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune had a stormer against Cruzeiro, and kept his side in the game. Bafana kept their shape well in a fiery atmosphere to avoid conceding a goal.

Parreira told the Brazilian press he considers the draw against Cruzeiro a “good result”.

The coach acknowledged that the Brazilians had the better of exchanges, but said he was satisfied with Bafana’s performance.

“The Cruz dominated the game, but we, through good positioning, prevented defeat,” Parreira said. “We had two opportunities in the final minutes that could have ended in goals for us, but the final result showed that our positioning throughout was good.”

The SA Football Association’s report on the win against Boavista read: “In a pulsating football match [Bafana Bafana] have defeated local Brazilian side Boavista 2-0.

“The first goal came from Siphiwe Tshabalala in the 30th minute following a rebound from the Boavista goalkeeper. The goal is Tshabalala’s third in three games. In the 54th minute, Lebohang Mokoena made it two nil when he also found the back of the net.”

Tonight the South Africans face an intriguing fixture against Botafago, the club of former coach Joel Santana. The team is one of the four major football clubs in Rio de Janeiro, along with Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco Da Gama.

Santana has had some success at Botafago since being fired from the Bafana job in October.

The Bafana players have reported home favourably on the work a predominantly local-based squad has been doing in Brazil. Parreira’s aim in his home country is for the players to get the feel of the way football is played there. The coach has said he wants his team to formulate a style where they will play to their strengths at the World Cup, using skill, ball possession and technique.

Defender Matthew Booth told the Star: “It’s been tough. We’ve been training twice a day and it’s been hot as hell, so we’ve been whipped into shape quite quickly.”

Speaking ahead of the Boavista clash Booth said: “Basically, we have been instructed to keep our shape, so that’s what we have been concentrating on.”

“We’ve done it well, so far, with two different teams, and haven’t gi­ven them a sniff at goal.”

Goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs said: “We are making good progress because the training is top class. We are playing to our strengths.

“Everything is falling nicely into place. The past three games have proven to be a good exercise, with the emphasis on keeping possession and putting the ball on the ground.

“Also another crucial aspect of this camp is that we are learning to be a group, to be a unit, because that will be crucial at the World Cup.”

Substitute Franklin Cale nearly burgled the game against Cruzeiro for Bafana in the final two minutes, drawing two wonderful saves from Cruzeiro keeper Fabio.

“This was our biggest game in Brazil,” Parreira told Sapa, “but we must improve our ball possession.”

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