Hiddink: Bafana can surprise
Cape Town - Guus Hiddink, the celebrated Dutch coach who has guided three different sides to the Soccer World Cup, is the latest international football figure to offer rave reviews of the country that will host the 2010 World Cup, South Africa.
According to the FIFA website, during his visit to the tip of the African continent, Hiddink, who is on his last lap of his employment with the Russian team, said he believes South Africa will play capable hosts to the tournament. He also hinted that Bafana Bafana might pose a threat to many teams if underestimated.
“I think this is a fantastic country with great infrastructure. I have no doubt that teams will be impressed with the facilities when they land in South Africa before the World Cup. It was the right time that the tournament was given to an African country and if you look around in Africa, with all respect to other countries, then South Africa was always going to be the best option,” he said.
The former Chelsea manager believes that while South Africa are underdogs, with the right preparation they can spring few surprises during the tournament.
"Preparations are very important for any country that plays at the World Cup and for South Africa it will be vital that they prepare adequately for the event," he said. "You need to find the right balance and assemble not only a strong team but a balanced team. In (Carlos Alberto) Parreira, they have one of the most experienced coaches in the game today who knows how to prepare a team. He has a lot of experience and has been to a number of World Cup tournaments."
South Africa will play their opening game against Mexico on 11 June at Soccer City. They will then play Uruguay at Loftus in Pretoria before a face-off with France at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.
Hiddink said it was important for the hosts to have a “perfect” start to the event if they plan to advance. “When you are a host country, you have a lot of pressure, but that pressure can either work for you or against you," he said.