Pressure is now off us, says South Africa chief Parreira

SOUTH AFRICA coach Carlos Alberto Parreira believes his side will be more confident going into today’s potentially crucial World Cup showdown with Uruguay having got their first game under their belts.

The pressure was on the host nation in Friday’s curtain-raiser against Mexico and nerves looked to play a part as they struggled to get the ball off their dominant opponents in the first half.

However, the Bafana Bafana improved after the break and, having secured a 1-1 draw in that match, Parreira believes they are now in a better frame of mind heading into their second Group A fixture in Pretoria.

“I believe the most difficult game for us was the first one,” he said. “The whole world was watching and the pressure was there. After we played the first game we felt more confident, even though we are now playing against a very good team like Uruguay, who have lots of players playing for the big teams in Europe. They have a lot of experience.”

With both pool matches finishing in draws there is little to separate the four nations heading into the second round of games, with France meeting Mexico in the other match.

A victory at this stage would give the winner a major boost heading into the final games and, although Parreira knows nothing will be decided in terms of progression to the next phase, he believes today’s game could be crucial.

“It’s very clear for everyone – for us, for France, for Mexico, for Uruguay,” said Parreira.

“We’ve got to win one of the two games left or else it’s going to be very difficult to qualify.”

Parreira revealed he is likely to keep faith today with the majority of the side that played against Mexico.

“We might make one change but I haven’t spoken to the players yet so I won’t announce it.”

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez believes a victory over South Africa today would see his side take a “giant leap forward” in their hopes of reaching the last 16.

“We know it’s going to be very difficult but we know if we win we will take a giant leap forward,” said Tabarez.

Looking at South Africa, Tabarez added: “We are playing a team with it’s own virtues, they are also very enthusiastic.

“I think they played well in the first match, they recovered from a difficult start and stayed strong throughout.

“They scored a goal and could have scored more and won the match. They not only had chances because they are playing at home but because they have huge potential.

“We can’t take anything for granted.”

Regarding his own side’s performance in their opener against France, Tabarez admits they wanted more from the game but could still take plenty of plusses.

“My players were rather frustrated because our goal was to beat France. Things didn’t turn out how we expected on the pitch, especially in terms of ball possession,” he said.

“But there were a lot of positive things that are helping us look at this next match with optimism.”

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