Frustration and disappointment have been etched onto his face at times over the last 12 months as results have not gone his way, but his broad Brazilian smile comes to the fore when things start shifting into place, although this was not really the case at the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana. South Africa had hoped to reach the last eight, but in the end they managed j ust two points and were handed an early exit.
Yet it was not all bad news. The team played a flowing brand of football with quick interpassing exchanges and swift movements sweeping them past their opponents, exactly the style that Parreira has sought to get the team playing with wing backs bringing the ball up the flanks and the midfielders pressurising their opponents.
Parreira, a coach at five previous FIFA World Cup™ tournaments, has been critical of what he calls “goalkeeper to goalkeeper football” in South Africa, with the ball forever in the air. “It’s a tough job to change the philosophy, telling the players that instead of walloping the ball, they must pass it,” he says.
The groundwork, especially at youth level, leaves a lot to be desired in South Africa with enthusiastic volunteers encouraging dribbling and tricks rather than instilling the basics of the game like a competent first touch or completing a pass. So Parreira has started from scratch in a sense, having to work on the foundations that he assumed would be in place before his arrival.