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Monday, 10 June, 2002, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Khompela praises Sono
Jomo Sono in training with South Africa
Khompela says Sono (right) has restored the side's morale
Steve Khompela, the man who captained South Africa back from international isolation at the start of the 1990s, has credited new coach Jomo Sono for turning around morale in a divided camp.

Bafana Bafana, who crashed miserably out of the African Nations Cup in Mali in the quarter finals, are now one draw away of making the second round of the World Cup for the first time in their history.

A spectacular comeback from two goals down against Paraguay and a 1-0 win over Slovenia have taken the side to new highs - ever more remarkable considering the rifts that were rumoured to be blighting team spirit in Mali.

"The problem we had in the camp when I was still with the team was low morale emanating from news filtering in," Khompela, who was the assistant coach to Sono's predecessor Carlos Queiroz, said.

"You can never send your soldiers to war when morale is lowest."

Khompela said that it was the fact that Sono was himself a South African - as opposed to Queiroz, a Portuguese born in Mozambique - that had made the difference.

"We come from a history and cultural background that was racist. We all know about it," Khompela said.

"Under Queiroz, one time in Liberia he put all the black players in single rooms and those who weren't black in doubles.

"I had to say to him, 'what you've done here might be interpreted by others as something else'.

"You have to go beyond the depths of simple understanding."

And he added that in a way, the Mali experience had played a positive role for the side.

"Mali gave Sono a perfect platform to say, 'ok, here were the problems areas, let me try and move further beyond those problems'."


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GROUP B
  P GD PTS
SPAIN 3 +5 9
PARAGUAY 3 0 4
SOUTH AFRICA 3 0 4
SLOVENIA 3 -5 0

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