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Bold decisions required from Parreira

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Piers Edwards | 15:19 UK time, Thursday, 17 June 2010

Uruguay's comprehensive victory was the type of result Bafana Bafana fans had long feared and coach Carlos Alberto Parreira had worked meticulously to avoid.

The Brazilian must be feeling crushed after his charges froze on a bitterly cold night in Pretoria and now face the very real - and unwanted - prospect of becoming the first World Cup hosts to fail to reach the second phase.

Furthermore, it is next to impossible to see where Parreira can take a glimmer of optimism from a desperate display as he plots to beat a French side on Tuesday that is far superior on paper.

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Wednesday night was a disaster as the cherished hopes of a nation celebrating its historic Youth Day fizzled out - the resulting damage a potentially crippling goal difference and the suspensions of Kagiso Dikgacoi and Itumeleng Khune, although Parreira has adequate replacements in both positions.

The pair's surviving World Cup dreams are dependent upon some bold decisions from the Brazilian coach because the evidence so far suggests that either Steven Pienaar or Teko Modise would be better off being replaced by a second striker.

Striker Katlego Mphela has shown he can score goals, although he was horribly exposed against a doughty Uruguayan defence as Pienaar sat behind, unable to make any meaningful impact. Under the watchful gaze of club boss David Moyes, the Everton star had little influence on the game and is surely better served by returning to the flanks, where he shone in last year's Confederations Cup.

That would mean Parreira would finally have to do something many believe should have happened long ago - drop the overhyped and underachieving Teko Modise.

Having said he was targeting a win against Uruguay, some observers - not unrealistically - thought Parreira might field two strikers. However, he showed no tactical variation to Friday's World Cup opener against Mexico - his lack of attacking options highlighted when throwing on Surprise Moriri, who stands 5ft 8' tall, against Uruguay's tall defence.

The only provisional squad member who could partner Mphela with any presence - Benni McCarthty - failed to make the cut. Instead, Parreira, who has lamented South Africa's poor development policy many times, is relying on the diminutive Moriri, the lightweight Bernard Parker and the veteran Siyabonga Nomvete.

None are out-and-out strikers but one may be called upon against France because, after Pienaar's quiet display, Parreira has to decide whether to stick or twist, keep faith with his 4-4-1-1 or throw two up top as he genuinely searches for the goals needed for victory.

The Brazilian will tell you a passing style and minimal physical contact better suit South Africa's physically frail footballers but he would lose little by mixing up things. Unlike the game against Mexico, the gulf in class between Uruguay, a side in Fifa's top 20, and South Africa, ranked 83rd, was wholly apparent as the coach's unbeaten run came to a juddering end.

South Africa supportersSouth Africa supporters show their disappointment following Wednesday's game

Much of the good work of the last few months went out of the window, while South Africa's failure to land high-profile friendlies in the run-up to the finals came back to haunt them on a night when their limitations were clearly exposed.

After Forlan achieved the impossible - silencing the vuvuzelas - the host nation's game plan fell apart as Bafana Bafana, who lacked leaders and showed little heart for the fight, passed the ball like the proverbial hot potato instead of taking responsibility to drive at Uruguay.

One positive factor regarding Tuesday's Group A decider against the 1998 world champions is that it is being played in Bloemfontein, the hotbed of South African support.

And as long as many locals managed to get tickets, the Free State Stadium should provide backing hitherto unseen at the World Cup, for the cramped arena is a cauldron of passion where the voices of Bloemfontein Celtic fans can drown out even the plastic horns that have become such a talking point at this tournament.

On Wednesday night, the fans were terrific prior to the game but quiet once Aaron Mokoena gave Forlan room to shoot. In fact, one vociferous fan spent half-time shouting at the varying colours of the Rainbow Nations that their support was far too quiet.

Loftus is the mythical home of Pretoria's Blue Bulls, the southern hemisphere's leading rugby union club, but this revered stadium was half empty by the time Uruguay scored their third.

Should South Africa exit the competition next week, it will undoubtedly remove considerable gloss from the finals. But with over 95% of tickets sold and enormous pride in hosting the event, the World Cup euphoria should go on.

"It won't change the World Cup," insisted a deflated Pienaar. "People are having fun."

The Bafana Bafana squad confidently danced their way into Loftus on Wednesday night. Now it is time to show some mettle to make sure they are still singing when they leave the Free State Stadium on Tuesday.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    SAfrica haven't played well enough and neither have the French. Uraguay and Mexico are shaping up as the teams from this group.

    The French have no spirit: couldn't break down Uruguay and Mexico outfoxed them. Really good displays so far from both the latter teams and they deserve to be where they are in the group. Never thought I'd say that about Uruguay but they have been impressive.

  • Comment number 2.

    Sadly it's going to be far too late now for any hopes of South Africa qualifying. Parreira must take the blame for his negative tactics. He might have been able to field this type of line-up when he managed Brazil but South Africa is not Brazil so he should have adjusted accordingly. Playing Piennar behind a lone striker was a total disaster and we have not seen the best of the Everton player. The writer hinted that Benni McCartby should have been selected! He is joking I hope. Have you seen McCarthy lately? He's about 2 stones overweight and teribly unfit and was a joke when he came on as a substitute for West Ham. So sad for a once great player and to think that he has allowed this deterioration when the World Cup is being played in his Country.
    No, I would have gone for Bernard Parker as a second striker and taken the chance. He looked lively when he came on against Mexico.
    France just might turn-up for this game in order to salvage some pride after their humiliation against Mexico, and if they do then it will be curtains for the home Country. Sad also to see so many supporters streaming out long before the final whistle the other night. Their team needed them badly.....

  • Comment number 3.

    You know, it's not inconceivable that South Africa beat Dumbenech's disjointed team 2-0. Then if Uruguay beats Mexico 3-0, Mexico and South Africa will have identical records. Since they drew 1-1, FIFA will have to resort to a coin toss to separate the two teams. If South Africa win that (speculations on the fairness of the coin toss might get this comment rejected) then South Africa will face Argentina in the Round of 16, but host pride will have been preserved.

    PS: Yes, FIFA does use coin tosses or drawing lots to separate teams - it's happened at least three times during World Cup qualification, though never in the finals. In 1954 WC Qualification, Turkey eliminated Spain on drawn lots. In the 1962 WCQ, Morocco eliminated Tunisia on drawn lots. In the 1970 WCQ, Morocco eliminated Tunisia on a coin toss. (The Tunisians had their revenge in 1978 when they became the first team to win on penalties during a WCQ campaign, eliminating - you guessed it - Morocco.)

  • Comment number 4.

    As any other Brazilian will tell you, Parreira is not the man to go for bold decisions.

    A good example was Wednesday: his team is losing 0-1, is one man down, and he has to replace a player for a GK. Who does he pick? A defender? A defensive midfielder? No, his team's most talented player, an attacking midfielder. He can't be bold even when he's desperate.

  • Comment number 5.

    @buymespresso. Make yours an extra strong double then, cos 3-0 uruguay and 2-0 S.Africa will NEVER happen! Uruguay only need to draw to win the group, and that suits their tactics perfectly. Mexico will have a go but they won't risk losing. Either way, if France or S Africa are winning by 2 or more goals, both uruguay and mexico will know and they'll settle for a draw, you watch.

  • Comment number 6.

    Piers,

    I would be very, very, very much surprised if the Uruquay-Mexico game wouldn't be a draw. 2 intelligent teams were doing this to get thru. Anything else is a failure by them. France and SA exit.

    Hopefully, the President of the French Federation who prolonged the impotent Domenech's contract 2 years ago will also resign...

  • Comment number 7.

    Domenech has already been replaced by Laurent, the french federation announced they were looking for replacement in Feb, they announce Laurent Blanc as a new coach a week before the tournament : hardly the best way to prepare for the WC, the early announcement ruined Bordeaux season's...... It is not only the coach that is the problem but his employer (2002 debacle entirely their responsibility).
    As far as the great brazilian is concerned, it is time for him to get money somewhere else. Yes he won the WC with Brazil but he has yet to win one game in world cup finals with any of the 4 teams he coached since. Time for him to pack up and be replaced by a solid local coach like Gavin Hunt.

  • Comment number 8.

    Parreira got his tactics wrong in the mexico and uruguray games to be honest its not really a surpise if they had lost those two games they played horribly defensively in both games and should have lost 4-0 or 3-0 even, one of south africans team problems lie in the striking department they lack cutting edge they need someone who can get them goals like the ivory coast have drogba or england have rooney. If you do not have an established striker then you will not go far in tournaments like the wc or any such.

    Their defence has been woeful what happened to their big tall south african defender, the white one looool mayority of them are black i saw him in the confederations cup he was a real solid rock in the back for south african, again in midfield they are too overeliad on pienaar to the work for them.

    Get a creative midfield and good striker, and sort out the defence then south african will be fine.

  • Comment number 9.

    #3 it has happened in the finals.

    Republic of Ireland and Netherlands drew lots at Italia 90. Both teams were already through, however, so it didn't matter too much which came 2nd (Ireland) as the 3rd place team also qualified for the 2nd stage.

  • Comment number 10.

    Parreira must take the blame for his negative tactics.
    ----------------
    Sorry but you are an idiot. Hiddink, Ferguson, Shankley, Wenger and Beckenbaur combined would not get this poor South African team through the group stages.





    PS: Yes, FIFA does use coin tosses or drawing lots to separate teams - it's happened at least three times during World Cup qualification, though never in the finals.
    --------------
    Actually it HAS happenned, to seperate Netherlands and Ireland for 2nd/3rd place in Italia 90. Both teams qualified for Round 2 anyway but the toss decided who would play who in round 2. Ireland "won" the drawing of lots and went on to beat Romania while the Nethrlands lost to West Germany.

  • Comment number 11.

    I would be very, very, very much surprised if the Uruquay-Mexico game wouldn't be a draw.
    --------------
    Actually with a second round tie against Argentina likely for the 2nd place finisher there is plenty of incentive for Mexico to go for the win.

  • Comment number 12.

    @ 3 actually it has happened, in 1990, to separate Ireland and the Netherlands I believe, for 2nd and 3rd place.

  • Comment number 13.

    Even a win against France will not be enough ..... we need to give them their largest ever defeat ..... so odds must be 1000/1
    Even if Uruguay & Mexico do NOT draw (which is a likely result), we need one of them to win by at least 4 goals - and even then we would need to win by 2 or 3, which is unlikely.

    So, can pretty much take it that SA are out, and playing for pride.

    We need a team which shows some movement, rather than standing around like so many deer caught in the headlights, as they did on Wednesday night. There was no passion, no movement, and no ideas ..... not even from the coach.

    Once SA were a goal down, and it was obvious that the "plan" (whatever it may have been) was not working, it was time to change the shape and change things around. What did the Coach do? Nothing.

    Anything would have been better than what he did ..... because anything is better than nothing. WHat is he paid R1,8 Million a month for? !!

    In any event, none of us who really understand the game expected to get out of the first round - we are ranked 83rd, after all, and in a tough group - so no big deal. All we want is a good performance against a very disjointed French Team, who are definitely far LSS than the sum of the parts.

    The World Cup sti goes on ..... and we still host it ..... and are blessd enough to have the wonderful experience, and all the great visiting fans who are here to enjoy it with us.

    I just hope that they are enjoying it as much as we are, and enjoying meeting us as much as we enjoy getting to meet them.

  • Comment number 14.

    I believe most sensible people must expect a draw in the Uruguay-Mexico game, which would make the match between SA and France a mere formality.

    It is silly to blame Parreira. His team has a distinct lack of quality and would be hardly his fault should they not progress. There seems to be nothing whatsoever pointing to the fact that things could have been better had he made different choices - it was in fact in this very blog where he had received praise for shaping SA into a passable WC team. They were a team. They got a solid result in their opening game against Mexico - no mean feat. They could've easily been much, much worse - and their play and results from the time before Parreira suggested they were actually about to get a good drubbing.

    Expectations were too high. Their draw was also very, very tough. It seems they won't make it and it is no shame - France probably won't, either.

  • Comment number 15.

    buymespresso - what have you been drinking tonight? if that chain of events happens, I will take those words back!

  • Comment number 16.

    @allseeingtruthspeaker @srminton
    I honestly don't see Mexico losing 0-3 to any team other than Argentina or perhaps Brazil. But France are like the Pakistan (in cricket) of football - you can never tell which France you're going to get at a tournament. True, there'd be more chance of SA upsetting France in the 1st or 2nd match rather than the 3rd.

    Mind you, if what I described as "not inconceivable" does come true, I'll eat my cat.

    @LazyRunning @hackerjack @Sergio Lahaye
    - you are absolutely right about Italia 90 - thanks! Though as you say, it didnt make any difference in that case. But imagine if it had... ok I take that back, even if it had made a difference, it wouldnt have really happened coz google hadnt been invented yet.

  • Comment number 17.


    South Africa coach Senhor Carlos Alberto Parreira did a fine job with the talent at his disposal. Hats off to the experienced and dynamic Brazilian football manager.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 18.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

 

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