Parreira hoping Bafana can find their identity in Germany (Feature)
By Lars Reinefeld Apr 22, 2010, 7:01 GMT
Herzogenaurach, Germany - Like a field marshall mustering his troops, Carlos Alberto Parreira stands on the pitch in the Adi- Dassler-Stadium in Herzogenaurach, Germany.
With arms folded in front of his chest, the Brazilian is watching the training session of Bafana-Bafana, as the national team of the 2010 World Cup host South Africa is called.
For two and a half weeks, Parreira and his team will be staying in Herzogenaurach, hoping that the team can find an identity.
'That is something that we are still lacking,' Parreira says. 'If you think of Brazil or Germany, then you know exactly how they play. Other countries like Spain or the Netherlands have their own style, but we do not.'
One of the reasons for that, says the 67-year-old, is the fact that each team in the South African top flight has a different style, partly because their coaches come from all corners of the world.
The national team is no different. Since rejoining the international fold in the early 1990s, the nationality of South Africa's national team coaches reads like the United Nations: England, Peru, France, Portugal, South Africa and Brazil.
'Under those circumstances, it was impossible that the team could develop its own style,' says Parreira, who in October started his second stint in charge of the team.
Parreira, who will be coaching of his fifth team at the World Cup finals later this year, believes he has found a system for his side.
'I think it is best that we keep the ball on the ground. If you look at our players, you will notice that they are not physical and tall. But they have their strengths - they are technically very good, and they are fast.'
Watching the training, it is apparent that Parreira has a point. Apart from the 1.98-metre-tall Matthew Booth, who incidentally is the only white player in the provisional squad, the other players are generally small.
They are, however, incredibly motivated, and one can see that they enjoy the training sessions. There is obviously no problem with team spirit, and the bronze statue of adidas founder Adi Dassler standing at the entrance of the stadium is wrapped in a Bafana jersey at the start of each training session.
'We are not yet ready for the World Cup, but the team is coming along nicely,' Parreira said.
The Brazilian generally seems much more relaxed a few days into the training camp after originally fuming at the inability of the South African Football Association to organize strong opponents for friendly matches. Instead, they had arranged games against amateur teams from the region.
After being slammed by Parreira and the technical staff, officials managed to secure games against World Cup finalist North Korea Thursday in Wiesbaden and against China on April 28 in Offenbach.
'It is very important that we play against strong teams,' Parreira said. 'After all, expectations are very high.'
Whenever Parreira, who won the world title with Brazil in 1994, meets fans, he is told: 'Make us proud.'
Even though he will be the most experienced coach at the finals, he feels the pressure. 'As coach of the hosts it will be a special World Cup.
'We have to take it one step at the time. The most important thing for us is to advance from the group stage.'
Having been grouped with Mexico, Uruguay and France, Parreira knows that it will be anything but easy. To avoid becoming the first host in the history of the competition to be eliminated in the first round, Parreira needs to build a strong team - and a strong identity.