: 2010

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South Africa might be ready, but is Bafana? (Feature)

With just over 100 days to go before the opening match of the World Cup, few South Africans question their country's readiness to host football's premier sporting event. Many, however, question Bafana's readiness on the world stage and there is some concern that South Africa could become the first host in the history of the World Cup to fail to advance to the knock-out stages of the competition. The draw in December failed to give the worrying fans any real reason to smile as the other teams in Group A - France (11), Mexico (17) and Uruguay (21) - are all ranked considerably higher than Bafana, who are 81st in the world. Much will depend on Bafana's opening game against Mexico. A win for the home side in Soccer City will probably be necessary to progress out of a difficult group. A draw or even worse - a defeat - will not only put the team into a very difficult situation, it would also put in doubt to what extent South Africans are willing to get behind the team. Their start to the World Cup campaign has anything but smooth and they changed their team base in February after South African Football Association officials found that their planned base was run-down, prompting CEO Leslie Sedibe describe the situation as 'embarrassing'. He said that the previous SAFA administration was responsible as they had failed to upgrade Esselen Park. 'We knew in May 2004 we would host the World Cup. Therefore, it was expected that SAFA would secure the best available training camp as we are playing at home. 'But we did not and now we are asking why and what went wrong. 'Here we are, the host nation, being the last team (of the 32 in the World Cup) to secure a training base for our team,' he said. Although the local league is ending in March to allow coach Carlos Alberto Parreira the best-possible preparation time with the squad, the Brazilian will be more concerned that this will only mean he has the locally-based players available. A trip to Europe where he attempted to ensure the release of some of the international players for two training camps organized outside the international calendar seem unlikely to produce much positive response from European clubs for whom African international football is often more of a hindrance than anything else. After a string of disappointing results, Parreira has turned towards some of the old and tested, though some would say: tired, players who took South Africa to the World Cup in 2002. Up front, Benni McCarthy, who seems a shadow of the player who was involved in Porto's Champions League success in 2004 has been recalled to the side. The Cape Town-born player who has retired from the national team more often than most people can remember, has played just three full games in the Premier League this season. Even captain Aaron Mokoena, who was once a regular in the Portsmouth side, has lost his place and has not featured as regularly as one would expect from a player who is hoping to shine on the world stage. Another player who must be giving Parreira some headaches is Teko Modise, who looked strong during last year's Confederations Cup but has also lost his form and went AWOL from his club ahead of an important derby match. Modise is not the only South African player with disciplinary problems as Steve Pienaar, who is arguably the team's only recognised player of international stature, made headlines throughout the world earlier this week after being arrested for drunk driving. Parreira though is optimistic that he will have a strong side at the tournament. 'We have a mountain to climb, but we will climb it,' he said. He had a warning though for Bafana players who did not feature regularly for their clubs in Europe. 'I need players who play week in, week out. I can't have players coming to the World Cup who are missing match fitness.' The situation, however, is not all doom and gloom as Bafana will undoubtedly be playing in packed stadiums in front of a vociferous crowd that will have the urge to will them to victory. Whether that is enough remains to be seen though and as the saying goes: Rome was not built in a day, but Parreira probably has an even tougher task: Build a competitive football team in 100 days.

BVC Airlines biofuel test successful

In any case, that's probably two to three years away from actually happening. We won't have any sense of the commercial viability for some time yet," Barthe Cortes said..


Zimbabwe stands 'on a precipice'

Zimbabwe is standing on a "precipice" as official results from Saturday's general election start to trickle in, the opposition has said. Leading Movement for Democratic Change official Tendai Biti says party leader Morgan Tsvangirai has won 60% of the vote, against 30% for Robert Mugabe.>>

The nation of Abu Dhabi has bailed out a failing American bank How shall we thank them?

pay $5 for a gallon of gas
make every female employee of Citi Bank wear a burqa
sentence Nancy Pelosi to 200 lashes