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Page last updated at 12:37 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Brazil camp 'vital' for South Africa's fortunes

By Piers Edwards
BBC Sport, Johannesburg

Matthew Booth
Matthew Booth says the tour of Brazil will help Bafana Bafana at the World Cup

Defender Matthew Booth believes South Africa's month-long training camp in Brazil will be crucial to determining the hosts' World Cup fortunes.

Bafana Bafana are in Teresopolis to use the Brazilian national team's training centre until 21 March.

In addition, games against famous local clubs have been lined up as well as a friendly with Paraguay on 31 March.

"The camp will go a long way to securing our consistency, form and ironing out problems," Booth said.

"It'll be good to get out of South Africa and the media spotlight, fantastic to use Brazil's facilities and play quality friendlies - and though we'll miss our families, we need this camp.

"It's what we experienced before last year's Confederations Cup where the 3-4 weeks of quality preparations really helped us."

After an uncertain start, South Africa performed brightly at the Confederations Cup but have gone downhill since - sparking last year's exit of Joel Santana, who now coaches Botafogo.

While coach Carlos Alberto Parreira's return has sparked greater optimism, last week's 1-1 draw with Namibia means the 1996 African champions have only beaten Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Madagascar in 14 matches.

A lowly 81st in the Fifa rankings, Bafana Bafana must raise their game to qualify from a Group A boasting former world champions France and Uruguay, and World Cup regulars Mexico.

"We've lost a lot of momentum since the Confederations Cup when we proved we can go toe-to-toe with the world's best," admits Booth, recalling memorable clashes with Brazil and Spain.

Parreira aims to use this month's camp to work on his players' conditioning, ably assisted by fitness trainer Francisco Gonzalez, as well as the team's shape and style of play.

"The standard of fitness in the (local) league is not at World Cup level and this camp should help rectify that or we don't stand a chance in the World Cup," Parreira said last week.

The Brazilian is keen to prepare a locally-based team for the World Cup in case overseas-based stars such as Steven Pienaar and Benni McCarthy are injured before the finals.

McCarthy is a current concern, having injured his knee on his debut for West Ham - a club he joined in January specifically to gain form and fitness ahead of June's finals.

"Hopefully Benni will get better soon because he's vital to our World Cup success," Booth added.

"He's disappointed at the injury's timing but is not down - and he's confident he'll be ready for the World Cup."

Following the stay in Brazil, which ends in Sao Paulo, South Africa travel to Germany next month for further preparations before coming home to finalise their World Cup run-in.

To aid Bafana Bafana's performances, the local league stopped this weekend, two months earlier than usual, to allow ample time for the players to be ready for 2010.

Just two of the 29-man squad play in Europe - Kermit Erasmus and Daylon Claasen, whose Dutch clubs have let them attend a camp not catered for by Fifa's international calendar.

South Africa's Brazil schedule:

13 March vs. Volta Redondo, Teresopolis

14 March vs. Fluminense, Teresopolis

17 March vs. Cruzeiro, Belo Horizonte

20 March vs. Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro

31 March vs. Paraguay, Asuncion

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see also
South Africa name training squad
04 Mar 10 |  African
Ivory Coast suffer South Korea defeat
03 Mar 10 |  African
South Africa recall Carnell
25 Feb 10 |  African
South Africa target Mexico
13 Dec 09 |  African
World Cup is our Everest - Parreira
08 Dec 09 |  African
Mixed reception for Parreira
24 Oct 09 |  African
South Africa reappoint Parreira
23 Oct 09 |  African

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