Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has
asked Bafana Bafana supporters to
keep up the energy, the vibe, and the
noise. (Image: MediaClubsouthafrica.com.
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Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira described the whittling of five players from the current 28-man complement as one of the most difficult of his career – and he surprised the nation by leaving controversial striker Benni McCarthy out of the team.
The announcement took place at media house Primedia’s premises in Johannesburg under the auspices of the National Press Club. It follows national squad Bafana Bafana’s 5-0 thrashing of Guatemala in Polokwane, Limpopo province, the evening before.
Fifa has set 1 June as the deadline for all countries to submit their final 23-member teams.
Besides Parreira, the South African Football Association (Safa) CEO Leslie Sedibe, Safa president Kirsten Nematandani, assistant coach Pitso “Jingles” Mosimane, and representatives from sponsors Absa Bank and South African Breweries, were also in attendance.
Parreira quit as the national coach in April 2008 because of family reasons, only to be reappointed in November 2009 when his successor Joel Santana left. Before Santana’s departure, Bafana lost eight of their last nine games and dropped to their lowest Fifa ranking since 1994.
However, Safa is confident that bringing Parreira back was the best possible move. “This hasn’t been an easy road for any coach,” said Nematandani to Parreira, “but the Safa executive made no mistake when we recalled you.”
He encouraged the players who did not make it to the final squad by saying that they have all developed and improved immensely, and there will be another opportunity for them. The investment into developing their skills will pay off in the future.
“There are 48-million people behind you,” he told the newly announced squad, “so now you must stand up and be counted.”
Nematandani also urged the media to report positively about the team during the last remaining days until kick-off, to help build an atmosphere of energy and confidence that will inspire Bafana Bafana.
Commitment and support
“This announcement is the culmination of Bafana’s strict training regimen,” said Sedibe, “that saw them attending camps on three continents, in Brazil, Germany and Durban.”
He reminded the audience that during the World Cup, South Africa plays host to the world both on and off the field and as such, it’s not just the players’ performance that needs to be top-notch.
“Bafana has committed to putting on a game that is always worth watching – yesterday will attest to that statement,” said Sedibe, referring to the Bafana-Guatemala game.
He thanked the South African public for their overwhelming support of the national team, mentioning the Football Fridays initiative that encourages all to wear yellow Bafana shirts at the end of the working week.
“This is what nation-building is about. We saw it [at the Super 14 rugby final] in Orlando over the weekend, and yesterday in Polokwane. This is how we rally behind our team as a nation.”
Sedibe spoke of Safa’s confidence that South Africa was entering the football spectacular with the best possible team, one that was backed by world-class coaching and technical expertise.
Ready to make the country proud
Besides McCarthy, the four that didn’t make it are defenders Bryce Moon and Innocent Mdledle, goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez and midfielder Franklin Cale. They were informed of the coach’s decision on 31 May.
Parreira said that every player deserved to be in the final team, and it was not a matter of one being better than another. Rather, factors such as team dynamics, discipline and physical condition were applied in making the selection.
“Our goal is to go as far as we can in the World Cup,” he said, “and we are ready to make you proud.” He said that he was happy with the players’ improvement, and felt that, with an average of three goals per game in their last four games, the team was ready.
Parreira added that Bafana Bafana were looking to their fans to create their usual spirited vibe in the stadiums. “We need the vuvuzela – it is our 12th man, and it will help us a lot.”
Bafana Bafana final squad:
Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Shu-Aib Walters (Maritzburg United)
Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Matthew Booth (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates), Aaron Mokoena (captain) (Portsmouth), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United), Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk)
Steven Pienaar (Everton), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows), Kagisho Dikgaco (Fulham), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan), Surprise Moriri (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bernard Parker (FC Twente), Siyabonga Nomvethe (Moroka Swallows)