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Posted on: Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Bafana players praise Parreira ahead of 2010 kick-off and other South African Sports News – 9 June

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Matthew Booth

Matthew Booth

Bafana players praise Parreira ahead of 2010 kick-off
Two days before they take on Mexico in the opening game of the World Cup at Soccer City, and eight months after returning for his second stint with the national side, the Bafana Bafana players have praised coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. The 67-year-old Brazilian cut short his first contract with Bafana in April 2008 for personal reasons, but after a rather unsuccessful 18-month stint by his replacement, fellow countrymen Joel Santana, he returned to the post in October last year.

Santana steered South Africa to the semi-finals of last year’s Confederations Cup, but was sacked by the South African Football Association (SAFA) after Bafana lost eight out of their last nine games under his care. On his return, Parreira has transformed the team, with Bafana entering the World Cup off a 12-match unbeaten run, including a 1-0 victory over Denmark in their final warm-up game in Atteridgeville on Saturday.

“Santana was good for us at the Confederations Cup, but then he produced poor results for a number of reasons, one of them being injuries,” said towering defender Matthew Booth (pictured). “I think Parreira was the right person to steady the ship and he’s also got us playing the ball on the ground, which is one of our strengths,” he added.

Parreira has steered four other nations to five previous World Cup tournaments, guiding Brazil to victory in 1994, and striker Bernard Parker said Parreira’s vast experience would be invaluable for the hosts. “The coach has brought in different tactics (to Santana’s) and a different way of playing, and he’s done well with us because of his experience,” said Parker. Following their recent good form, both players said they were confident the 83rd ranked Bafana will perform beyond expectations, although their attention at this stage is focused on Friday’s opening game.

“Friendlies don’t count for anything and Mexico will be tougher to beat, but we’ll be ready for them,” said a cautious but confident Booth. “I don’t think many of our players are looking past the first hurdle. Once we’ve played that game (Mexico) I think the focus will shift, and it depends who we draw in the knockout stages, but anything is possible,” he answered when asked about the team’s chances in the tournament.

Parker agreed, voicing his confidence of Bafana’s chances if they progress to the second round. “The main focus is to get past the group stage,” he said, “and in knockout games anything can happen.”

Katlego Mphela scored the winner for Bafana against Denmark on Saturday when he found the back of the net after 76 minutes. The striker known as ‘Killer’ latched onto a defence-splitting pass to blast the ball under the body of ’keeper Stefan Andersen and settle the contest.

Scoring chances were few and far between in a goalless first half with neither team able to gain the ascendancy. Parreira stuck with a 4-2-3-1 formation that has allowed his team to remain unbeaten in their last 12 matches, and it worked well against the Danes who failed to breach Bafana’s defences.

If the South Africans can continue to produce the type of form they have shown over the last couple of weeks, they definitely stand an excellent chance of reaching the second round of the tournament. And with the expectations of an entire nation weighing heavily upon them, they will need little motivation to produce the goods when it counts most. Friday’s match kicks off at 3pm.

Frans Steyn

Frans Steyn

Shaky Boks hold on for win
It wasn’t their best performance by a long way, but the Springboks were still good enough to defeat Wales 34-31 at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday. With both sides scoring three tries apiece there was little to separate them, but in the end the Boks had a little too much class for their opponents who benefitted from some dubious calls from referee Allan Lewis and a moment of madness from visiting captain John Smit.

Although the Boks looked focused at the kickoff, they started badly with Lewis being particularly harsh on them in the scrum, awarding three unanswered free kick calls for engaging early, even though it seemed he took an age to make the “engage” call.

To make things even tougher for the Boks, Lewis awarded the home side six unanswered penalties in the opening minutes. Wales flyhalf Stephen Jones punished the Boks by banging over three kicks at goal to counterpart Ruan Pienaar’s one before Smit made what was without a doubt his biggest mistake in a Springbok jersey to leave his team 16-3 adrift after just 20 minutes.

South Africa forced a turnover through to debutant Francois Louw, but when the ball was flung wide to Smit he appeared in two minds as to what to do. He ended up throwing a feeble pass into the grateful arms of a prowling James Hook who stormed through for a try to send the 60 000 strong crowd into a frenzy.

However, Smit redeemed himself shortly afterwards by getting his side back onto the front foot as first Pienaar goaled another penalty, and then on attack, after a frantic scramble over a loose ball, the flyhalf spun the ball wide for left wing Odwa Ndungane to dive over in the corner. Ndungane’s try left the Boks just five points behind and when Pienaar slotted another penalty shortly before the break, the Boks were only 16-14 down and firmly back in contention.

The visitors started the second half strongly with Louw grabbing another turnover and locks Victor Matfield and Danie Rossouw dominating the lineouts. The Boks took the ball up field before scrumhalf Ricky Januarie by-passed prop BJ Botha with a pass to send Rossouw into space. Although he was well tackled, he had enough sense to back flip a pass to flanker Dewald Potgieter who crashed over to put the Boks ahead.

Fullback Frans Steyn (pictured with ball in hand) then stretched the Boks’ lead to 10 points (24-14) by acing a 50m penalty and although Jones slotted another three pointer in the 46th minute to break the visitors’ run of 18 consecutive points, the Boks landed the knockout blow shortly there afterwards.

Some excellent work at the breakdown by Louw and Potgieter saw a Welsh ball spill forward, which Januarie pounced on and sent to Juan De Jongh. The fleet-footed centre then stepped his way past a floundering Jones and ran in for a superb try to put the Boks 12 points ahead.

Wales hit back quickly with a try from fullback Tom Prydie only for Pienaar to slot his fourth and final penalty to keep the Boks just out of range.  Replacement fullback Zane Kirchner then gave the Bok supporters some flutters when he made a hash of a simple up and under that paved the way for a late converted try from Alun-Wyn Jones, but the visitors showed their class by holding on for the win.

South Africa 34 – Tries: Odwa Ndungane, Dewald Potgieter, Juan de Jongh. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (2). Penalties: Pienaar (4), Frans Steyn.
Wales 31 – Tries: James Hook, Tom Prydie, Alun-Wyn Jones. Conversions: Stephen Jones (2). Penalties: Jones (3). Drop goal: Hook

Bok coach Peter de Villiers named a 27-man squad on Monday for the coming series of home test matches against France and Italy with the big surprise being the omission of the powerful Steyn who is always a potential match winner with his huge boot and strong running. However, De Villiers was clearly not impressed with what he saw on Saturday. “I believe Frans was the best in the world last year, but he wasn’t the best in the world in Cardiff, and that is a problem,” said De Villiers.

Steyn, who left the Sharks to play for French club Racing Métro in April 2009, looked sluggish against Wales over the weekend and De Villiers has possibly made the right call by decided to leave him out of the squad.  Apart from Steyn, Ndungane (rib injury), Meyer Bosman, Joe van Niekerk and CJ van der Linde were all dropped from the match 22 that did duty against Wales.

The Boks face France at Newlands on Saturday and will clearly have to improve on their performance against Wales otherwise they could be in for a hiding from the unpredictable French, who can tear even the best defences to shreds with their enterprising back play. Kick-off is at 2pm.

Springbok squad:
Bjorn Basson, BJ Botha, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Jannie du Plessis, Jaque Fourie, Gio Aplon, Bryan Habana, Alistair Hargreaves, Butch James, Ricky Januarie, Ryan Kankowski, Zane Kirchner, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield, Wynand Olivier, Ruan Pienaar, Dewald Potgieter, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Danie Rossouw, John Smit (captain), Pierre Spies, Gurthro Steenkamp, Morne Steyn, Flip van der Merwe.

Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

Baby Boks start Junior Champs with a bang
The SA under-20 rugby team got off to a excellent start at the 2010 IRB Junior World Championships when they outclassed Tonga 40-14 at the Club Atletico Estudiantes in Parana, Argentina on Saturday. The Baby Boks scored four tries and earned maximum points from their opening Pool C clash against the Pacific Islanders.

Fullback Patrick Lambie (pictured), skipper CJ Stander, centre Francois Venter and winger Sampie Mastriet all scored tries for the men in green and gold. Lambie converted all four tries and added three penalty kicks for a personal tally of 22 points. The South Africans conceded one try late in the second half when George Moala crashed over the tryline while winger Micheal Toloke slotted three penalties for Tonga.

“I am happy with the win and even happier that we managed to score the four tries which earns us a bonus point victory,” said SA under-20 coach Eric Sauls. “We started off well in the first half, but all credit to Tonga, they came hard at us in the second and made life difficult for us,” he added.

The Baby Boks enjoyed a comfortable 26-3 lead at the interval courtesy of Mastriet and Stander’s tries while Lambie scored the other points by adding two conversions and three penalty goals. In the second half, Venter added the SA under-20s’ third try shortly after the restart before Lambie muscled his way over the try line in the final minute to earn the South Africans their bonus point victory.

The South Africans were always in control of the game and held the ascendency at the line-outs and in the scrums. Scrumhalf Louis Schreuder benefitted from his side’s dominance up front to dictate matters well in the first half, and together with flyhalf Elton Jantjies, kept the game in the Tonga half.

The Baby Boks went into a commanding 33-3 lead after Venter added the their third try, but a lapse in concentration late in the second half allowed the Tongans to stage a fightback. However, it was a case of too little, too late for the Pacific Islanders as the Baby Boks ran out comfortable winners in the end.

“We always knew it was going to be a tough game physically,” said Stander. “But I must compliment the guys for the way they stuck in there right until the end to get the four tries. We are taking these World Champs one game at a time, we’ll enjoy the result and then start focusing on our next game against Scotland,” he added.

The Baby Boks square off against the Scots in their second Pool C game at the Estadio CA Colon in Sante Fe today. Kick-off is at 7pm.

South Africa 40 – Tries: Sampie Mastriet, CJ Stander, Francois Venter, Patrick Lambie. Conversions: Lambie (4). Penalties: Lambie (4).
Tonga 14 – Try: George Moala. Penalties: Michael Toloke (3).

Alviro Peterson

Alviro Peterson

Proteas gear up for test series
Speedsters Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel were only able to send down 28 balls between them before rain washed out the second day of the two day warm-up match between the Proteas and a Trinidad & Tobago XI at the Sir Frank Worrell Field in Trinidad on Monday.

In that short spell Steyn had opener Lendl Simmons snapped up by ’keeper Mark Boucher and found the edge of fellow opener William Perkins’s bat only for the latter to survive when the ball passed between third slip and gulley. The home side closed on 18/1 in 4.4 overs in reply to South Africa’s 347/4 off 90 overs.

South African batsmen Graeme Smith (41), Alviro Peterson (pictured), Hashim Amla (44 retired), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy (51 retired), and Mark Boucher (51 not out) all got amongst the runs as the visitors wrapped up their preparations for the upcoming test match series against the West Indies. Vice-captain Jacques Kallis said the team was well prepared for the five-day series, which starts at the Queen’s Park Oval tomorrow.

“There are not many personnel changes between the One Day International (ODI) squad and the test side and the guys have been playing good cricket here for some time now,” said Kallis. “Our test cricket has been very good over a period of time and the main focus will be on the disciplines and processes required for the longest form of the game,” he added.

Kallis said the fact that the West Indies had lost seven games on the trot to the tourists would not allow for any complacency. “The West Indies can be a very dangerous side and it is important that we set our standard from the start,” warned Kallis. Tomorrow’s game starts at 4pm.

Scores in brief
Proteas: 347/4 (A Peterson 65, AB de Villiers 53 retired)
Trinidad and Tobago: 18/1
Result: Rain washed out play

The Proteas won the ODI series against the Windies 5-0 after scraping home by one wicket in the last match at the Queen’s Park Oval on Thursday and have regained second place from India on the ICC Reliance Mobile rankings. The South Africans now have 119 points while India have dropped four points to 118 from their current triangular series in Zimbabwe in which they lost twice to their hosts and shared their matches against Sri Lanka 1-1.

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2 comments about Bafana players praise Parreira ahead of 2010 kick-off and other South African Sports News – 9 June
  1. June 9th, 2010 at 16:01
    Jane says:

    Thanks for the great sports news , and looking forward to news on the soccer. Thank you.

  2. June 14th, 2010 at 14:46
    Guy Mortimer says:

    Thanks Jane. I will do my best with the World Cup coverage.

    All the best.