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South Africa news

Parreira: Inside I'm worried

June 15, 2010
By Soccernet staff

South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is feeling tense with the destiny of the host nation's side in his hands, but is trying not to let pressure transmit to his players.

Carlos Alberto Parreira instructs Kagisho Dikgacoi in training
GettyImagesCarlos Alberto Parreira instructs Kagisho Dikgacoi in training

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Parreira saw his side record a 1-1 draw against Mexico in the opening game of the World Cup as South Africa made light of suggestions they could perform poorly and become the first host nation to fail to make it out of the group stage.

South Africa continue their Group A campaign when taking on Uruguay on Wednesday night and while Parreira is keen to underline he has not set a minimum target of reaching the last 16, he is aware of the growing expectation surrounding his team.

"This morning I woke up at five o'clock," Parreira said. "I'm not stressed, I'm not panicked, but there is tension, I know the whole country is behind us. The whole country is expecting my team to deliver, but I've never told my players they have to reach the next round.

"They have to believe in themselves, to believe in the quality they have - like they did in the second half (against Mexico). Apparently I look calm but inside I'm worried."

Despite any concerns Parreira has, the coach believes that having secured a point against Mexico in the opening game, the upcoming challenges of Uruguay and France will prove less stressful for his players.

"I believe the most difficult game for us was the first one," Parreira said. "The whole world was watching and the pressure was there. After we played the first game we felt more confident, even though we are now playing against a very good team like Uruguay, who have lots of players playing for the big teams in Europe. They have a lot of experience."

France and Uruguay also drew their opening game last week and Parreira knows that in a tight group, nothing will be decided until the final round of games.

"Now it's going an open game for us and for them because it's so tight. Those teams who want to qualify have to win at least one of the two games,'' Parreira said. "It's very clear for everyone - for us, for France, for Mexico, for Uruguay.

"We've got to win one of the two games left or else it's going to be very difficult to qualify. Whoever wins tomorrow isn't guaranteed to go through. These two draws leave the competition open to the final round."