23 June 2010
Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira was an emotional man in Bloemfontein on Tuesday night as he bade farewell to the team after its exit from the 2010 Fifa World Cup. “South Africa can be very proud of its team,” he said.
After returning to replace Joel Santana as Bafana coach, Parreira achieved excellent results, with South Africa losing only one of 15 games under him: that being the 3-0 setback suffered against Uruguay at the World Cup.
Looking back on his preparation time of seven months with the squad, he said: “I have to say to them thank you very much. I’m so happy with this occasion.”
Disappointed, but not a failure’
Reflecting on South Africa’s World Cup finals campaign, during which the team drew 1-1 with Mexico, lost 3-0 to Uruguay, and beat France 2-1, he said: “We are disappointed that we didn’t qualify, but I do not consider this a failure.”
Parreira felt luck was possibly not on Bafana Bafana’s side, pointing out that the team had struck the post against both Mexico and France. He might also have pointed out a goal scored by Uruguay from an offside position, but he didn’t.
He said he felt Bafana Bafana had an identity now, and predicted a bright future for the game in South Africa.
The 67-year-old Brazilian said he would take a break from football, for the rest of the year at least, before deciding on what he would do in the future. If he coached again, it would be in Brazil, he added.
‘Very, very good feelings’
“I will always remember this country with very, very good feelings,” he said of his time in South Africa.
The 2010 World Cup finals were Parreira’s record sixth time as a coach in the finals. “I thank God for the privilege of participating in my sixth World Cup and finishing off with a victory. I am extremely, extremely happy,” he said.
The Brazilian previously coached Kuwait at the finals in 1982, the United Arab Emirates in 1990, Saudi Arabia in 1998, and Brazil in 1994, when they won the tournament, and 2006.
Some criticised Parreira’s record before the 2010 event, saying he had only ever won World Cup finals matches with Brazil. That’s true, but, as Pareirra pointed out, Kuwait and the UAE were made up largely of amateurs. It was different with Saudi Arabia but, interestingly, the only point the Saudis picked up in 1998 was in a draw against South Africa.
After the 2010 tournament, Parreira, at least, sports a victory by a team not named Brazil at the World Cup finals.
President Jacob Zuma aslo talked to the press after visiting the Bafana Bafana players in their changing room after Tuesday’s match. “The boys made us proud today,” he said. “They ended in a very positive note as a team, and I’m very happy for that.”
He added: “We are hosting and that is a big win for the country. South Africa has done Africa well, hosting this Cup in the manner in which we are, so we are very happy.
“As we entered this campaign the whole country was united, the entire continent was united, they had made a contribution to unite our nation.”
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