Parreira hits out at SAFA
Johannesburg - Always the canny diplomat, Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira on Thursday adorned a pair of kid gloves and politely, but firmly rebuked his South African Football Association bosses for not compiling a tougher, more thorough programme of matches leading up to the World Cup.
The Brazilian-born coach made his comments at a press briefing at which he announced the 25-man squad for the second phase in Germany of his three-phase World Cup preparation programme and was replying as to how he felt about Bafana's still uncertain build-up programme in comparison to that of Mexico, South Africa's opponents in the vital opening game of the World Cup.
The Mexicans are due to play tough friendly internationals in late May and early June against England, The Netherlands and current World Cup holders Italy, while Bafana will hone in on soccer's pinnacle event with a game against Denmark - hopefully because the contract has still to be signed - and a couple of other still-to-be-determined opponents who include 22 year-old maestro Lionel Messi's Argentina in a proposed match-up that is now begining to look like no more than pie in the sky.
During the German stint, Safa had planned to lure a couple of world soccer powers to test Bafana, but all they have come up with thus far is a game against China - who do not rate anywhere close to South Africa's first-round World Cup opponents, Mexico, Uruguay and France.
" When I first came to terms with taking on the job of Bafana coach as far back as 2007," said Parreira, "I intimated the importance of an increasingly tough programme of build-up games so that the South African players would be well-prepared to face the tough opponents that await them at the World Cup.
"For a while," he added, "there was some follow-up and games against Portugal, Italy and Scotland provided the players with the kind of experience they needed. Unfortunately this has not been followed up to what should have been its conclusion right up until the eve of the World Cup - although I am hopeful something can still materialise at this late stage."
Parreira said he had personally intervened after rejoining Bafana for his interrupted tenure as Bafana coach and attempted to arrange games against Brazil and other world powers - "but in every instance," said the Bafana coach, "the reply was sorry, it's too late. Our programme has already been finalised."
And in keeping with Parreira's astute penchant for answering tricky questions impressively, but with answers unrelated to the information that was initially sought, the Bafana coach chose to dwell on other subjects when asked how he felt about the dismal form and fitness of Benni McCarthy.
More revealing was Parreira's recall of 70-times capped Siyabonga Nomvete from the international wilderness, justified, it would seem, after his impressive sequence of performances for Moroka Swallows.
Less logical, however, was the return to the squad that spent almost a month in Brazil of Katlego Mashego, considering the Orlando Pirates player has been palpably out-of-touch for some time.
Also at the media briefing, Safa CEO Leslie Sedibe confirmed that players named for the revised Bafana training squad would not be made available to their teams for Saturday's Telkom Cup Final between Kaizer Chiefs and Ajax Cape Town in Durban.