Parreira ready for challenge
Brazilian warns of tough group
By Danny Wright. Last Updated: 04/12/09 10:48pm
South Africa: Looking to progress
South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira claims his side have been handed the toughest draw possible for next year's World Cup finals.
The host nation - seeded alongside the top seven sides in the world - were handed a difficult group that includes Mexico, Uruguay and France, who qualified for the tournament under a cloud.
And despite Raymond Domenech's side looking like the most difficult match for the Bafana Bafana, Parreira was keen to emphasise all three matches would pose problems.
There is added pressure on the South Africans to make round two given the fact that no host nation has ever failed to progress beyond the group stage.
The Brazilian pointed out Group A had 'balance' though, and that his team should not fear any of their opponents.
"It's the most well balanced World Cup grouping for the past five or six competitions," he said. "Amongst these groups, I would say that ours is one of the most balanced and most difficult.
"It's the only one that has two former champions, France and Uruguay, plus Mexico, who are always qualifying and have lots of World Cup experience.
"But we do not have to regret anything, this is what we have to face and it presents us with a challenge. We have to prepare ourselves in a very good way."
South Africa were soundly beaten 3-0 by France during the 1998 World Cup, where Les Bleus went on to win the trophy. The French also finished runners-up in 2006, losing to Italy in the final.
Mexico have reached the knockout phase in their last four World Cup finals, and will be keen to continue that run.
But Parreira said his side must focus on the two matches before the France clash on 22nd June, first kicking off the tournament on 11th June against Mexico before a potentially pivotal encounter with Uruguay on 17th June.
"All the games will be important, there is no point in getting a good result against Mexico and then go on to lose to Uruguay and France," said the 66-year-old.
"So we have to prepare for the whole challenge. But we are optimistic and looking forward to a good tournament."