Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Fast-talking Santana in attack-mode for Brazil

SoccerNews in World Cup 24 Jun 2009

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If South Africa play as well as their coach Joel Santana talks then Brazil are in for a hiding in Thursday’s Confederations Cup semi-final.

The Brazilian was in loquacious form at the eve of match press conference at Ellis Park on Wednesday, handling questions as deftly as a seasoned ANC politician.

After speaking eloquently about the honour of meeting Nelson Mandela earlier in the day, Santana assured Bafana Bafana fans that South Africa would turn out against the five-time world champions with one thing on their minds – attack.

“It’s impossible to go out and defend for 90 minutes against Brazil,” he stated.

“We’re going to take the game to them. We might lose but we’d prefer to lose honestly playing attacking football.

“We learned a lot in the 2-0 defeat to Spain, now we are facing almighty powerful Brazil. We are going to try and at least match them as much as possible and to play football as beautiful as theirs.

“Not to be afraid is important, we want to produce a spectacle.”

Earlier Santana had overseen his troops’ final training session at Johannesburg’s Rand Stadium, the Brazilian barking out instructions in ‘engluese’, his sometimes hard to decipher but charming mix of English and Portuguese.

After a training game lasting half an hour, Santana called over the team’s security officer, possibly the largest man in the world, to get him to clear the stadium as he put the finishing touches to his masterplan to beat Brazil in secret.

Striker Bernard Parker failed to complete the session after picking up a minor knee problem and the forward who scored both goals in the 2-0 win over New Zealand is uncertain for Thursday’s game.

He is due to undergo medical tests later on Wednesday and on Thursday before a decision is taken on whether he will be fit enough to face the five time world champions.

Later at the press conference Santana then tackled the question of divided loyalties in leading South Africa out to play his native country coached by a man he used to coach.

“Note this, playing against Brazil is a professional occasion, South Africa has accepted me and given me an opportunity to coach the national team for the Confederations Cup and next year the World Cup.

“It’s a historic moment facing Brazil, I know some of the Brazilian players personally but the important thing is we are going to do our best against one of the top teamms in the world.

“I thank South Africa with a lot of humility for giving me this chance,” said the man who played against Pele in a previous life.

Captain Aaron Mokoena said there was an air of excitement in the Bafana Bafana camp.

“We’re expecting a very very tough game but for the players it’s an exciting moment. We’ve been waiting for this game for a long time.”

Mokoena was part of the South Africa team that beat Brazil 3-0 at the Olympic Games in Sydney nine years ago and he revealed: “I spoke to the boys last night about the feeling of beating ‘the giants’. For sure tomorrow is different, Brazil want this badly, but so do we.”

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