Cautious Parreira must gamble
Johannesburg - A shattered South Africa Soccer World Cup squad rested on Thursday while coach Carlos Alberto Parreira pondered how to avoid Group A humiliation.
Diego Forlan-inspired Uruguay outclassed the hosts 3-0 in freezing Pretoria late on Wednesday and sent them plunging to the bottom of the table with just one point and a June 22 Bloemfontein fixture against France to come.
A nation that dreamt of a second round place after holding Mexico six days ago woke nursing a massive hangover as the Uruguayans brutally exposed Bafana Bafana (The Boys) defence and midfield frailties.
Parreira, a World Cup-winning coach with his native Brazil 16 years ago, blamed the Swiss referee for a late second-half penalty Forlan converted to become the first footballer to score twice at the 2010 tournament.
"The referee 'discovered' a penalty. It was the worst performance of the tournament (by a referee)," said the $200 000 a month coach who entered the match boasting an unbeaten 13-game record.
But most of the 50 000-capacity crowd at Loftus Versfeld would beg to differ and side with the post-match assessment of Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez, however painful.
"I laugh at the suggestion Uruguay won the game because of the referee. My opinion is that Uruguay won the game deservedly. South Africa did not generate any risk to us."
Not a natural gambler, Parreira must reconsider his loyalty to first choices like fullback Siboniso Gaxa, captain and centreback Aaron Mokoena and wide midfielder Teko Modise before tackling 1998 world champions France.
He will also have to rethink a formation that includes a lone striker in Katlego Mphela after South Africa took 70 minutes to get a shot on target against the South Americans.
Gaxa was turned inside out by various fleet-footed Uruguayans and presented no threat going forward while Mokoena offers neither leadership nor inspiration and is a suspect defender on the ground and in the air.
A shot that deflected off the skipper gave Uruguay a first-half lead and he was absent without leave for the third goal as South Americans queued up to tap a cross into the net.
What one-time big hope Modise is doing in the starting line-up remains a mystery to all but Parreira, who quits South Africa for his Rio de Janeiro home once the host nation bow out.
Modise does not attack with menace and does not defend with grit while a slight build sees the Orlando Pirates star brushed off the ball with disconcerting ease by opponents.
Parreira must make two changes with Moeneeb Josephs set to replace suspended goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune in a move unlikely to weaken Bafana as the first choice was to blame for the opening goal and conceded the 'killer' penalty.
Midfield enforcer Kagisho Dikgacoi is also suspended for the French fixture after being cautioned against Mexico and Uruguay and his role could be handed to ex-Lamontville Golden Arrows team-mate Thanduyise Khuboni.
If Parreira is feeling brave he may also consider including fullback Anele Ngcongca, centrebacks Matthew Booth and Siyabonga Sangweni and striker Bernard Parker and switch to a 5-3-2 format more likely to create scoring chances.