South Africa choose Santana as next coach

April 23, 2008

JOHANNESBURG, April 23 (Reuters) - Brazilian Joel Santana is set to take over from compatriot Carlos Alberto Parreira as South Africa's national coach, the South African Football Association said on Wednesday.

Santana, who was recommended by Parreira, has accepted the post and SAFA chief executive Raymond Hack 'will leave for Brazil at the weekend to finalise the contract and work permit requirements,' the association said in a statement.

Santana is expected to arrive in South Africa on May 9, just weeks before a World Cup qualifier against Nigeria, scheduled for June 1 in Abuja.

Parreira, who quit on Monday to return to Brazil to be with his wife who is suffering from cancer, said he had recommended an experienced coach.

'He has won many championships and coached many great players. I believe he will provide crucial continuity,' the statement quoted Parreira as saying.

Santana said he aimed to continue the work started by Parreira, who was appointed to build a competitive team for South Africa's hosting of the 2010 World Cup finals.

'Taking over South Africa is a blessing and I am determined to carry on Carlos' good work. I believe with my experience it will assist in trying to achieve the goals of the South African team,' Santana said in the same statement.

Santana will be South Africa's 15th coach in 16 years. It is the first national team job for the 59-year-old, who has worked at clubs in Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil.

Earlier on Wednesday, Hack told local radio the identity of the new coach would only be announced once contractual and legal obligations were sorted out, but the leaking of his identity by Santana's Brazilian club Flamengo forced the association to make the statement.