Brazilian Joel Santana was confirmed Wednesday as the new coach of 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa.
A South Africa Football Association statement said the 59-year-old Flamengo coach would start work on May 9 following the resignation of compatriot Carlos Alberto Parreira on Monday owing to the ill health of his wife.
Santana has little international experience, apart from brief stints with clubs in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Japan, but told Brazilian reporters this week that the chance to lead a national team at the World Cup was a dream come true.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said while admitting that leaving Brazilian giants Flamengo had left him “heartbroken”.
Santana will reportedly earn 200,00 dollars a month – 50,000 less than 1994 World Cup-winning coach Parreira.
Parreira guided Brazil to their fourth world title and quit as South Africa coach a month after being lauded when Bafana Bafana (The Boys) gave their finest display for many years to outclass Paraguay 3-0 in a Pretoria friendly.
Victory over Paraguay came soon after South Africa made a lacklustre first round exit from the African Nations Cup in Ghana following draws with Angola and Senegal and a heavy loss to Tunisia.
It was the first time in 10 attempts that Bafana Bafana defeated South American opposition since being readmitted to international football in 1992 after three decades of isolation.
South Africa are guaranteed a place as hosts at the first World Cup to be staged in Africa, but must compete in the 2010 qualifiers because they double as elimination matches for the African Nations Cup in Angola the same year.
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