Zuma's return puts a smile on Parreira's face


Though Zuma has only played a bit part for his German club, his mere return to playing has prompted Parreira to draft him into his squad for the Nelson Mandela Challenge against the USA as the Afcon finals draw closer.

"I am happy with the return of Zuma. We have been following his progress all the time and it is good to have him back in the team. He is an experienced player who will always give us options in attack," says Parreira.

While the Germany-based players (Siyabonga Nkosi included) that have just returned from injury have been called up, right winger Elrio Van Heereden has been ignored.

"We have been talking to Elrio every week since July when he started battling with his injury. It is only recently that he has returned to full training and the last time we spoke he wasn't even sure if he was going to play in their previous Sunday match," adds the coach, while then choosing to talk about his plans.

"Since we are guaranteed of our place in 2010 we have to look at a broader picture than all the other countries at the Afcon finals that will then have to play qualifiers. So we need to build the confidence in our team by playing the big teams in the world in preparation for 2010.

"Our bigger plan is the World Cup and looking there the chances are that we will not meet any African country in our group, but rather such countries as the ones that we have been playing against.

"Canada has players in Europe but is still at a developing stage though they did well in the CONCACAF. The US has been to the last five consecutive finals of the World Cup and so we will have a lot to gain from playing against them," says Parreira.

On the Nations Cup draw in which Bafana will meet Angola, Senegal and Tunisia in Group D, he said, ‘the chances are open'.

"This is the most balanced group from which it will not be a surprise if any two of the four go to the next round," he says.