Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bafana Preps without Overseas Stars

Hmm. Carlos Alberto Parreira concedes he won't have his best players at the three pre-World Cup camps he is staging for the South African national team.

Can't be good.

The story in the Johannesburg Times list those who Parreira acknowledges won't be released by their (mostly) European clubs.

Top of the list?

Crafty little midfielder Steven Pienaar and the nation's all-time scorer, Benni McCarthy, both playing with Premier League teams in England that don't have to (and won't) allow their players to be gone for long stretches of time.

Pienaar is playing well for resurgent Everton, and McCarthy has re-emerged with Blackburn. The idea that their clubs would let them go over to Brazil or Germany for extended camps -- which is what Parreira has planned -- wasn't realistic.

As it is, national sides are lucky to pry away their stars from club commitments when a legitimate international play date is on the calendar.

What Parrereia was thinking when he formulated this plan is fairly obvious. He wants to get the Best of the Rest together, and somewhere out of the country, and see if he can get a change of chemistry from the long run of bad results that South African suffered through in the second half of 2009.

Of course, not having your best midfielder and best forward (for starters) means that whatever cohesion is developed in the camps will immediately be torn up and discarded when South Africa opens the 2010 World Cup against Mexico on June 11.

In theory, having its best players going hammer and tongs in top leagues week after week makes them better players. In practice, it would be nice to integrate them into the national team a little more often than will be possible.

No host team has failed to make the second round of the World Cup. South Africa lives in fear that it will be the first.

This sort of halfway approach to the run-up doesn't seem likely to improve the Bafana's chances of group-stage survival.

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