Bafana Bafana are determined to take another step on the long road to recovery when they face Jamaica in their final friendly international of 2009 at the Free State Stadium on Tuesday night.
Bafana head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira indicated he will make a couple of changes to the side that drew 0-0 against Japan in Port Elizabeth at the weekend. The Brazilian coach warned that his team would not underestimate the Reggae Boyz.
Bafana’s draw against the 40th best side in the world at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium showed Parreira a number of areas he needs to fix in the seven months before the Soccer World Cup kicks off in June.
But it also showed Bafana are on the mend after Santana’s disastrous 17 month reign.
Parreira’s biggest problem is to instill confidence in his goal-shy strikers.
When asked if he would take a different approach to Jamaica who are ranked 69th in the world, Parreira stressed: ”There is no way I will change my approach or relax. There are no so-called weak teams in international football these days. We need to be tested like we were against Japan when we play Jamaica.
”Japan have already qualified for the World Cup and they pushed us all the way. I will treat Jamaica the same as I did Japan and I am expecting a tough battle on Tuesday night.”
Parreira warned that mighty Brazil only managed a 1-0 win over the Jamaicans in London recently.
”That is enough warning for me that Jamaica cannot be taken lightly.”
Parreira said the spirit and morale in the camp had been lifted after the gutsy 0-0 draw against a competitive Japanese side who used the occasion to test conditions in South Africa and familiarise themselves ahead of the World Cup.
While Jamaica have won three, drawn four and lost two of their nine internationals played in 2009, the Reggae Boyz are not in the same class as the well disciplined and organised Japanese outfit.
Coach Theodore Whitmore has left out his three English Premiership players — Stoke City’s Ricardo Fuller, Ricardo Gardner of Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic’s Marlon King.
That leaves a lot on the shoulders of their Norwegian based players, defender Adrian Reid who plays for Lillestrom, midfielders Rudolph Austin of Brann Bergen, Erick Vernan and Damion Williams, who both play for Nybergsund.
Parreira said he was pleased with the performance and workrate against Japan, but is looking for more effort and improvement in attack and midfield.
”In defence we looked solid when we settled down, but there is plenty of room for improvement in midfield. We also need to be more aggressive in our build up in attack and get more shots on target.
”We need to create more chances in front of goal.”
The biggest worry against Japan was that Bafana had only one real shot on target — that from midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala.
Parreira is likely to start with the same two strikers in Benni McCarthy and Katlego Mphela.
Bernard Parker replaced a tiring McCarthy in the final 15 minutes against Japan. But Parker appears to have lost his confidence.
McCarthy, who warms the bench for his English Premiership club Blackburn Rovers, needs all the game time Parreira can give him.
It is in midfield where Parreira might change things around. Teko Modise is struggling with his form, as is Kagisho Dikgacoi. Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Daine Klate and Elrio van Heerden who came on against Japan, are keen to catch Parreira’s eye and are keeping the other midfielders on their toes. – Sapa