Eighteen months after he quit, Brazilian Carlos Parreira returned as coach to South Africa’s national football team on Friday, replacing his compatriot Joel Santana, who was dismissed this week.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) confirmed that Parreira, 66, had been picked to turn around the lacklustre World Cup host side in the eight short months left to go before kick-off in the tournament.
“Parreira’s contract with SAFA runs through to the 2010 FIFA World Cup,” SAFA confirmed in its website after its national executive committee made the decision in a meeting behind closed doors in Johannesburg on Friday.
In Rio de Janeiro, Parreira appeared happy about the move in an interview with Brazilian television channel GloboNews.
“There is a special flavour to coaching the host country (in a World Cup), but that also entails a great responsibility, because the coach is at least obliged to get through the group stage and even to go a bit further,” he said.
Parreira, who in the course of a 41-year coaching career led his country to the 1994 World Cup title, was no surprise choice.
Some South African football commentators had been rooting for a local coach for the Bafana Bafana, but SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani told reporters that the country’s football authorities did not have time to oblige.
“It was our wish to have a local person coach the national team, but we have only eight months to go to the World Cup and there is no time for experimenting, so we went for experience,” Nematandani said.