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Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Monday, 5 April 2010 16:13 UK

Bafana encouraged by Brazil trip

By Piers Edwards
BBC Sport, Johannesburg

Teko Modise (left) battles for the ball against Paragyuay
South Africa's Teko Modise (in yellow) in action against Paraguay

World Cup hosts South Africa returned home in high spirits on Monday following a training camp in Brazil.

Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira used the month in his homeland to improve his players' fitness and tactics ahead of June's World Cup.

The squad made up of mainly locally-based players lost just one of the nine matches they played in South America.

"The mood in the camp improved tremendously on this tour," Katlego 'Killer' Mphela, told BBC Sport.

"We learnt a lot of things, we got to know each other as players and it was successful even with all the travelling and the hectic schedule."

The 29-man squad, just two of whom play in Europe (Netherlands-based duo Kermit Erasmus and Daylon Claasen), underwent intensive fitness sessions throughout the month.

Bafana Bafana played a series of games against local clubs, most of whom fielded reserve sides due to ongoing state championships.

"When I went to Brazil, I was so unfit but we worked very hard, training twice a day every day, and all the guys are now much fitter," said Teko Modise, a regular in Bafana Bafana's first team.

"Even though many teams fielded reserves, their players were very good and the quality was such that we improved greatly - I learnt a lot, particularly the importance of patience in possession."

Following an opening draw (0-0) against Volta Redonda, South Africa thumped a very youthful Fluminense side 8-0 before beating Boavista (2-0).

South Africa coach Carlos Alberto Parreira (centre) leads a training session
Carlos Alberto Parreira (centre) took South Africa to train in Brazil

One of the tour's hardest matches came on 18 March against a strong Cruzeiro side, with South Africa holding the hosts to a goalless draw in front of 40,000 fans in Belo Horizonte.

Bafana's reserves then beat Cruzeiro reserves (2-0) before South Africa chalked up wins against Botafogo (2-0) and Sao Paolo side Ponto Preta (2-1).

On Wednesday 31 March, South Africa contested their solitary international when holding Paraguay to a 1-1 draw thanks to Siphiwe Tshabalala's stunning 30-yard strike.

"It was a great tour - for myself personally and the team as well," the dreadlocked Kaizer Chiefs star, who shone in Brazil, told BBC Sport.

"The idea of going to Brazil was to implement their style of play and system, and I think we achieved that. Everybody worked very hard."

Although the trip ended with a 2-1 defeat to Santos in Sao Paolo, coach Parreira was delighted with a tour which boosted his squad's low morale following the 1-1 home draw against Namibia on 3 March.

"Since we arrived in Brazil, the confidence of the players on the ball has improved tremendously," said the 1994 World Cup winning coach.

"The important thing for me was to get the fitness levels up to World Cup standards, and to give the team some shape.

"I was also looking at off-field behaviour and was impressed with the players - they were focussed, disciplined and showed commitment. So I am very satisfied and the future looks good."

The South Africans have a week to recover before heading off on 12 April for a similar camp in Germany, where they will stay until the end of the month.

Parreira's stated aim is to prepare a team of local players for the World Cup, where the hosts face Mexico, Uruguay and France in Group A, in case overseas stars such as Steven Pienaar, Aaron Mokoena and Benni McCarthy are injured before the finals.

Around half the players in Brazil can expect to make Parreira's squad for the World Cup, which takes place between 11 June-11 July.

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see also
Brazil camp 'vital' for SA
09 Mar 10 |  African
South Africa name training squad
04 Mar 10 |  African
Ivory Coast suffer South Korea defeat
03 Mar 10 |  African
South Africa target Mexico
13 Dec 09 |  African
World Cup is our Everest - Parreira
08 Dec 09 |  African

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