South African team ignoring French melodrama
South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira does not expect the turmoil in the France squad to affect its performance in the Group A match on Tuesday against his team at the World Cup.
South Africa needs a convincing victory over crisis-ridden France and a winner in the other group game between Mexico and Uruguay to avoid becoming the first host nation to fail to make the knockout stage.
France resumed training Monday, one day after the squad went on strike in protest at the French football federation's decision to send striker Nicolas Anelka home.
Also Sunday, France captain Patrice Evra had an altercation with the team's physical trainer, one FFF official resigned, and coach Raymond Domenech was put in the embarrassing position of explaining why the players were on strike.
But Parreira, who coached Brazil to the 1994 World Cup title, thinks Domenech's players will leave their problems behind when they run out for the match at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein as they also need to win to progress.
"When the French players enter the pitch they know it is important to win ... and what happens outside of the pitch will not affect France's performance," Parreira said. "Once that game starts, France will do everything in its power to win this last group-stage match.
"There is a saying in Spanish: to talk about a bullfight is one thing, to be in the arena is another. So I'm not there, and you have to be there to know what to do," he added of what he would do in Domenech's place.
South Africa captain Aaron Mokoena also doesn't expect France to be an easy opponent.
"We do not rely on the problems the French team have," he said. "We try to focus on our task."
Parreira said he'll make five changes to the team humbled 3-0 by Uruguay, three by choice plus two to suspensions. Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was sent off against Uruguay, and midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi has received two yellow cards in the tournament.
Moneeb Josephs will almost certainly replace Khune — as he did when the first-choice keeper was sent off — and holding midfielder Thanduyise Khuboni is likely to come in for Dikgacoi.
Parreira is under pressure to find an attacking combination, with South Africa having scored only one goal in the competition.
Even if South Africa does beat the 1998 World Cup winner, a draw in the Mexico-Uruguay game will end the home team's tournament and take the Mexicans and Uruguayans through.
"The reality is that we don't depend upon ourselves — we need another team's results," Parreira said. "But this does not affect our motivation for the game. We should be there, we should show our faces and we should finish the competition in high style."
Asked if he would play for a draw if he was the Mexico or Uruguay coach, Parreira smiled and replied: "Good question."
"It's not our problem," he said. "Our problem is to go and win our game, and hope there is a positive result and that one side will win. "Tomorrow, of course, only a win will give us hope. If we don't put people in the box, we will not score."
outh Africa captain Aaron Mokoena denied suggestions that the country's hugely expectant home fans had piled the pressure on the Bafana Bafana players.
"The only thing I can say to the fans is that they have been incredible," Mokoena said. "They have been absolutely supportive to the team and that's what we needed."