Parreira: Winning is always good
Friday 9 November 2007
Carlos Alberto Parreira is one of the most experienced coaches in the history of the FIFA World Cup™, taking four countries to the finals. He has also, of course, won its prized trophy with Brazil in 1994, along with the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup.
However, now sat in the South Africa hot-seat, Parreira faces arguably his biggest challenge to date: guiding an expectant host nation at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Initial evidence that Parreira is on the right track came in the form of the nation's first title in five years - the COSAFA Cup - and their qualification for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana.
In the final of the COSAFA Cup, South Africa met Zambia, whom they had lost out to in the race to progress to Ghana 2008 as group winners, but this time the result left the Bafana Bafana smiling. FIFA.com caught up with Parreira to discuss this triumph and his hopes for South Africa.
FIFA.com: Carlos Alberto, you have just won the COSAFA Cup - you must be excited about this?
Carlos Alberto Parreira: It is always good to win. But this can't just happen, first you must be structured, you must have a plan and you must work for it. This is what we tried to implement.
What are the fundamental changes you would like to implement?
Any change in life is very difficult to implement, to change the philosophy of play. South Africa should be playing possession football, like Brazil. They told us that South Africans don't like this type of football so I was pleased to see the Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs match. Sundowns lost a player, but they won 2-1. They were keeping possession and the crowd was happy and cheering so such play does excite the crowd.
Many of South Africa's established players may arguably be too old to play in 2010. Do you have plans to find new players?
The COSAFA Cup gave us the opportunity to see new faces in the country. In Brazil, when we have young players, they are 19 or 20 when they play in the Brazilian national team. In South Africa, they are 23, 24 or 25- they mature too late. In Brazil, a player is already established at 25. The COSAFA team was young different faces and it is very important to win, especially against Zambia. The better team should have won, and they did. Winning gives you confidence and salso now the younger players will fight for positions in the national team. These next games are going to help us decide how to change and who to pick for the African Cup of Nations.
What are your aims for the African Cup of Nations?
In the African Cup of Nations, South Africa is the only team to have qualified to play in the World Cup. All other teams will fight - if you remember Cameroon and Nigeria did not play in the past World Cup. The other teams must play good and qualify, so our target is not only to win, but also to prepare the team for the World Cup.
This is the big picture, you must always see the big picture and the big picture for us is the World Cup. Preperation for the World Cup is the most important thing and we will also need the will to win.
What do you think is necessary for a successful national team?
We need these leagues for the younger players. You look at Ronaldinho, who was five when he started playing at a club, Ronaldo was seven. And in eight or ten years, they were playing in the national team. You need to encourage local players from a young age to make a movement, this why youth teams are so important. If you look at Zico, Falcao, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, they all started in the U-15 national team. Maybe the only one who did not is Pele, because he was 16 when he played for the senior team. That is how life works, you make a movement towards something. You go to elementary school, then high school, then university, the same with football.
South Africa have dropped on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. Does this concern you?
I am not worried about dropping five points, because we are playing Scotland and Italy. We must play highly competitive games and gain the experience. I get asked why play so many European teams, but in the World Cup 15 teams come from Europe, and I have never seen two African teams in the same group. If anything, they (the African teams) meet in the round of 16. We also play African teams every two years in the African Cup of Nations, and then there is also the qualifications. These are all wonderful opportunities for preparations for 2010.
How do you think the team performed so far?
I am happy with the first half of the Italy game, and I am happy with the Scotland games. It is important to see the progress and see how to improve. We have trust in Bryce Moon, Bennett Chenene and Moneeb Joseph are very consistent during the COSAFA Cup. Teko Modise is a great hope.
What is your plan for the South African national team?
For the first two years, we scout as many players as possible and playing many friendlies, COSAFA Cup and the African Cup of Nations. Our plan is that we have two years to see the players. So far we have seen 77 players and there are still about ten to 12 that still need the opportunity to play. It is a slow process. National coaches do not get to see the players every day, so it takes a bit longer. You don't how good a player is, until you play him in a national team. Ademir da Guia was the top goal scorer for Palmeiras but when he played in the national team in the 1974 World Cup, he could not play.
"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”