Bafana Bafana ended their World Cup preparation programme with a vote of confidence from head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira after beating the highly-rated Denmark 1-0 in a fired up friendly international played in front of a capacity crowd.
The Brazilian-born Parreira said the win against the 36th-ranked Danes had done wonders for morale and showed Bafana were now ready to take on Mexico in the opening World Cup Group A match at Soccer City on Friday.
The man of the match was the ever-improving midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane, who has given Parreira food for though and it looks like the Kaizer Chiefs star is set to start against Mexico.
Less encouragingly, Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar had a quiet game and was replaced in the second half by Surprise Moriri. How about these blokes’ names? They’re fantastic.
The only goal was scored in the 75th minute by ace striker Katlego Mphela, who also continues to improve as his confidence grows.
“I am proud,” said a smiling Parreira. “When I took over Bafana last November the people told me make the country proud. The players have done just that. We want to continue making South Africa proud. We are now ready for the World Cup. It is not going to be an easy tournament for us because we are in a very tough group with Mexico, Uruguay and France.”
Parreira, who won the World Cup with his native Brazil in 1994 said his first priority was getting Bafana through to the knockout out phase of the World Cup.
“I am not saying Bafana are going to win the World Cup but we need to get as far as possible. Once we get to the second round when it becomes a knockout tournament, anything can happen and I am happy to take my chances then.”
Fingers crossed. A World Cup is always enriched by strong showing from the host side, especially one as eccentric and colourful as Bafana Bafana.