By Nkareng Matshe and Jonty Mark
An emotional Carlos Alberto Parreira bade a tearful farewell to South Africa last night, thanking the country for making him the first man to coach at six World Cups. Bafana Bafana bowed out at the first hurdle yesterday in spite of beating France, meaning this was Parreira’s final match after coaching at the highest level for 42 years.
The Brazilian was asked at the post-match press conference how he felt about leaving the job. His eyes were filled with tears as he spoke with raw emotion.
“I have received incredible support throughout the country,” Parreira said. “I will deeply remember my time here. I spent 18 months here (from 2006-2008), but unfortunately I had to leave because of a family challenge. The people here believed in me and brought me back last year. For that I will always be thankful because I made history by being the only coach to coach at six World Cups. It is a proud moment for me.”
With Bafana losing out to Mexico on goal difference, Parreira was happy to bow out on a high. “You need a bit of luck in football. If you look back, we hit the post twice in this competition – against Mexico and today (yesterday). If any of those chances had gone in, we could have gone through,” he said.
Parreira had a confrontation with Raymond Domenech after the match when France’s coach refused to shake the Brazilian’s hand. While Domenech refused to explain why he wouldn’t shake Parreira’s hand, the Bafana coach said one of Domenech’s assistants reasoned that Domenech had been angered by comments from Parreira which followed France’s controversial qualification for the World Cup.
“There wasn’t any dialogue between us, but as a matter of politeness, I went over to shake his hand because I knew this was the last time he was coaching France. The assistant explained that he (Domenech) wouldn’t shake my hand because I had offended him. After the qualifying matches, I made a comment that France didn’t deserve to be here because of (Thierry) Henry’s hand-goal. It is very lamentable what has happened,” Parreira said.
Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena said the side would analyse their failure to qualify for the last 16, but added he was not disheartened by the players’ performance.
“I think we have to go back as a team and find points that give us a clear picture why we didn’t qualify. But I am sure there are loads of positives. We had a draw, a loss and a win. I don’t think this is a bad result.”
France went into yesterday’s match in some disarray, but Mokoena said it was still a tough challenge for Bafana.
“They are a quality side, with experienced players, but we made it difficult for them. Going a man down (France’s Yonan Gourcuff was red-carded in the first half) was always a mountain to climb (for France), and we tried to utilise that. They gave us a tough time with their subs (Florent) Malouda coming in and (Thierry) Henry… they made a difference, but we kept knocking on the door.”
Mokoena stressed the need for the South African Football Association to invest in youth development. “This World Cup has to leave a positive legacy,” he said. “As a nation we have to build, and development is absolutely important. This is what President Jacob Zuma emphasised. “We have to make sure we pump money into development.” The Star (SA)