7 March 2006
Brazilian star Pele, perhaps the greatest footballer ever, believes that South Africa’s footballing style is similar to that of world champions Brazil, and that the solution to the country’s football woes may be found close to home.
He was speaking to Business Day after a coaching clinic in Soweto, south of Johannesburg, on Monday.
Pele is in the country as part of the launch of a World Cup-branded Mastercard credit card.
South African style
“Everybody says SA’s style is the same as Brazil’s because of the similarity in skill, ball control and talent,” Pele said. “No doubt I think we have the same style.”
Since South Africa’s dismal performance at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt in January, there has been much speculation on a new coach for the national football team.
Pele said that he had discussed the question of the South African coach with former teammate Jomo Sono. Sono was South Africa’s coach at the 2002 World Cup.
Pele, the scorer of 12 World Cup goals, said that a Brazilian coach may not be the answer, and that a suitable coach could be found closer to home.
The names of two Brazilians, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Carlos Alberto Parreira, have been mentioned in connection with the Bafana Bafana coaching position.
“There are good Brazilian coaches and there are bad ones,” Pele said.
“If you can find a very good Brazilian coach, well and good. If you land up with a bad one, you will only have the same problems you would have with a bad coach from any other country.
“Sometimes the man is already in your country but you do not know it yet.”
African World Cup
Although South Africa will be sitting out the 2006 World Cup, the country will be watching the efforts of the African qualifiers – Angola, Tunisia, Ghana, Togo and Ivory Coast – with keen interest.
In 1977, Pele predicted an African victory in the World Cup before the end of the 20th century. While that did not happen, Pele believes that the continent will soon surprise the established football powers of the world.
“Africa has an opportunity to win in 2010. The World Cup is a box of surprises and Africa has an excellent opportunity to play very well in 2010.”