By Patrick Omorodion
Despite the pessimism of the western world about the readiness of South Africa for the World Cup, the frenzy surrounding the event grows with each passing day. Everything needed to make it a success is on ground and FIFA President, Joseph Sepp Blatter, who was instrumental for the World Cup coming to Africa, has continuously reiterated this.
The average South African football fan has been looking forward to the kick-off of the 2010 World Cup since the day the country was granted the hosting right but the draws which pitched them against first World Cup winners, Uruguay, Mexico and 1998 champions, France seem to have doused their enthusiasm.
Their Brazilian coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira doesnâ€™t want to bugged down by the fans pessimism but has one thought on his mind, that is not to create the record of being the first host nation to crash out after the first round since the event started in 1930.
To achieve this, Parreira who succeeded his compatriot, Joel Santana as coach of Bafana Bafana began early preparation with a team made of wholly home-based players to his native country, Brazil for tune up matches. This was made possible as the domestic league in South Africa ended earlier than usual last month.
When the European leagues wind up in April/May, he is expected to add some sprinkle of foreign-based players to get his full team for the summer battle. He told FIFA World that he believes the players realise the enormity of this battle.
â€œI think they know the responsibility they have, they know the focus of the competition. We donâ€™t want to be the first home nation ever to not reach the next round. I believe though that with work, rather than with words, we will make it past the group stage,â€ he said.
And he is banking on thousands of their supporters who will throng the venue of their matches with the ever noisy vuvuzela to unnerve their opponents. Especially in the opening match against Mexico, because a good result from that game means a lot for their advancement.
â€œThe pressure is very big but we are not afraid of that. We have to focus on the good things we have,â€ Parreira said, adding â€œHome advantage is certainly one of those positive factors, especially if we go into the tournament well prepared.â€
To put the home advantage to maximum use, the Brazilian is calling on South African fans to blow the vuvuzela ceaselessly to unnerve who ever they play during the competition, beginning with Mexico.
â€œThe vuvuzela is a big help and we have to use this. I believe it is going to be scary for the Mexican team in the opening match with 90,000 people all blowing those horns for us. The country will be behind us and we have to deliver.â€
After the 1996 Africa Nations Cup triumph, the Bafana Bafana have not really measured up as a force in Africa and that, followed by the string of losses the team recorded under Santana, may have been responsible for the fans pessimism.
Parreira however, believes that with the support of the fans like was exhibited during the Confederations Cup last summer with Santana still in charge, his wards could pull some surprises and go beyond the first round for the happiness of the fans who besiege him anywhere he goes. Brazil needed a last minute free kick to stop Bafana Bafanaâ€™s run at the tournament.
â€œEverywhere I go, people come up and say to me â€˜coach, make us proudâ€™. Thatâ€™s what we intend to do,â€ he stressed.