Friday, October 23, 2009

Parreira Back as South Africa Coach

At least that's what is being reported by Kick Off magazine.

Carlos Alberto Parreira is returning as coach of the South African national team, a week after federation dismissed another Brazilian, Joel Santana -- who had the bad form to have lost eight of his final nine matches running the Bafana Bafana.

Santana replaced Parreira in April of last year when Parreira resigned for what he called "personal reasons." Until then, it had been assumed Parreira would lead South Africa through the 2010 World Cup.

Parreira's appointment is important for several reasons.

--South Africa had to make a change. No one wants a host country that can't compete, and when South Africa lost 1-0 at Iceland, and was manhandled by Germany in a 2-0 defeat ... the Bafana Bafana was beginning to look as if it didn't belong in the 2010 World Cup, even if it were hosting it.

--Parreira is one of the handful of men in the world who has coached a team to the World Cup championship, leading Brazil to the title in 1994.

--Parreira isn't new to South African football. He coached the team in 2007 and into 2008. So he already knows the most important players. He won't be starting from Ground Zero, and that is important, considering the World Cup is less than eight months off -- 230 days, to be exact. That isn't long to batter the squad into shape.

To be sure, Parreira is something of a controversial figure. (As all coaches are, yes?) He was heavily criticized in 2006 when his Brazil team went out to France in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. His tactics were old and tired, some said, and others suggested he had lost control of his team.

Parreira is not a young man. At 66, he is at the upper end of the age bracket that can be expected to do well in a World Cup. It is a supremely demanding job, with enormous pressures.

Still, we're not sure South Africa could have done much better. The federation hired a man who knows the team, is familiar with the country and has won the biggest prize in football.

He takes over a team that played bravely, and well, against Brazil and Spain in the Confederations Cup, last June. So there is hope, still, that South Africa can make a good showing at the 2010 World Cup -- on the field as well as off it.

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