Santana due to jet in on Thursday


Yesterday, the SA Football Association were busy trying to get the media behind the coach, asking that he be spared criticism and given time to settle in the country.

What Santana brings to South African soccer is still an open question as he has no track record at international level.

What is known is that he will be judged on results with his first real test being the baptism of fire against Nigeria in Abuja in three weeks’ time.

Santana is expected to report to his bosses at Nasrec on Thursday before attending some of the league matches this weekend although details of his arrival and plans have come in sketchy installments from Safa.

It seems the mother body wants to keep Santana’s arrival a low-key event following the backlash Safa has endured since announcing Santana’s appointment.

Yesterday, Safa could not confirm exactly when the Brazilian will land at OR Tambo International in Johannesburg.

Safa director of communications, Morio Sanyane, said they will communicate the coach’s itinerary as soon as the information is available to them.

“At the moment I’m waiting for a briefing from the CEO [Raymond Hack] and once he has finalised all the logistics, we will release a press statement with all the details that you guys want,” he said.

“But it is important for people not to get the wrong impression about this; we have no reasons to hide his arrival in the country.”

Santana was not interviewed for the job by Safa but was hand-picked by Parreira.

The controlling body accepted his recommendations without the expected one-on-one with the man responsible for moulding the country’s senior national side ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

Santana will leave Brazil on a high, after leading his club Flamengo to their 30th Rio de Janeiro state championship title at the weekend.

Flamengo beat arch-rival Botafogo 3-1 at Maracana Stadium. Trailing 1-0 at halftime, Santana made daring changes and managed to turn the score around with four strikers on the pitch.