Report: Santana to succeed Parreira

Though Carlos Alberto Parreira will quit his post as coach of Bafana Bafana to be with his ill wife, he will remain a technical adviser to the team, he announced on Monday.

Meanwhile, the sports website GloboEsporte reported late on Monday that Joel Santana, coach of Brazil’s Flamengo club, would succeed Parreira.

Parreira (65) announced his decision in Johannesburg, flanked by South Africa Football Association (Safa) officials including president Molefi Oliphant and chief executive Raymond Hack.

”We worked very hard in these 15 months, but suddenly there were problems,” said Parreira, who will return to Brazil to be with his wife, Leila, whose health is deteriorating. ”My family needs me; especially my wife needs me near her.”

His original four-year deal was meant to run until after the 2010 World Cup. Despite his departure, the Brazilian said he believed a smooth transition was possible, especially as his entire backroom staff would be retained.

”We are going to help to make sure our vision and philosophy will be continued,” Parreira said. ”The most difficult work has been done. If we keep the same way, the same philosophy, I believe the team has the capacity to do well in the World Cup.”

GloboEsporte cited Flamengo vice-president Kleber Leite as saying that Santana is to leave the club on May 4 and that Flamengo players already know it.

He said that Santana (59) had told him on Sunday that he was leaving, but that Parreira had earlier told him that Safa was going to make ”an indeclinable proposal” to Santana.

Bafana Bafana crashed out of the Africa Cup of Nations in the first round earlier this year in Ghana, but there has been a gradual improvement in the team’s performances, exemplified by last month’s 3-0 defeat of Paraguay in a friendly.

Parreira’s resignation, just 14 months ahead of the Confederations Cup in South Africa, caused dismay among football fans and commentators.

”It’s definitely bad news,” said Pieter du Toit, editor of South African football newspaper Laduma. ”It’ll take the next guy another 18 months to get to know the players like Parreira.”

‘No crisis’

Oliphant said that Parreira had informed him and Hack of his intention to quit to be with his wife in early April, and that the news came as a shock. He denied, however, that it constituted ”a crisis”.

Pressure on Safa to announce Parreira’s departure built after the coach’s wife told a Brazilian newspaper last week that he was returning home in May.

”The health of his wife, Mrs Parreira, was deteriorating. As a result, it was difficult for him to focus on the preparation of the team,” Oliphant said.

He said that Safa had requested that Parreira’s technical staff remain in place and that he remain on as a technical adviser when needed. Parreira agreed, offering to remain on as a consultant, subject to his ”personal obligations” in Brazil.

Oliphant said that Parreira had asked to leave his post on May 2, or as soon as possible thereafter, while the coach said he would go ”when everything is in place, when everyone is satisfied”.

No date for the appointment of a new coach was set in the press conference, which was held hours before Brazilian media reports that Santana was in line for the job.

Oliphant earlier ruled out promoting either of Parreira’s two assistant coaches — Jairo Leal of Brazil or South Africa’s Pitso Mosimane — saying ”they are not ready” for the job.

Parreira thanked Safa, saying it had been very supportive. ”I would like to stress this has been a very difficult decision for me to take,” he said.

The coach who led Brazil to World Cup victory in 1994 admitted that he had offers of work in Brazil, but that he would not be acting on any other opportunities ”for the time being”.

Along with Santana, coaches who listed as possible successors were Brazilian Felipe Luis Scolari, currently the Portuguese national coach, and ex-England and current Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The next coach, according to Laduma‘s Du Toit, should have been to the World Cup with a team, have experience building an unfancied side and coach an offensive rather than a defensive game. ”We’re good with the ball, not without the ball,” he said. — Sapa-dpa

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