Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Albero Parreira has curbed the expectations of South African fans by tipping host nation Ghana to win the 2008 African Nations Cup.
Parreira says the quality of Ghana’s international players, home advantage and their record in the competition makes them favourites to lift the 26th edition of the finals, which runs from January 20 to February 10.
“I think Ghana will win,” he tells Kick Off. “They have a good team of full internationals. They have a good record at this level and will be playing at home. The fact that they played well at the World Cup will mean confidence will be high. I was in charge of Brazil when we beat them 3-0 then and it was very difficult.”
Parreira reckons the likes of Cameroon and Nigeria will be the main threat to a Ghana triumph, but not necessarily Bafana.
“We are the only country at the Nations Cup that is definitely going to play at the World Cup in 2010, so I look at the big picture.”
That big picture is the World Cup on home soil and Parreira says he will be looking for indicators from Ghana 2008 that his side will have the players capable of taking Bafana to the second round in 2010.
“It is important to win the Nations Cup but I also see it as a wonderful opportunity to evaluate some players,” he says. “We need playmakers and finishers because the likes of Benni McCarthy and Sibusiso Zuma are into their 30s now. We need to find new faces to give them competition.”
Competition for South Africa in the group stage of the Nations Cup will come in the form of 2002 World Cup quarterfinalists Senegal, 2004 Nations Cup winners Tunisia and Angola, who like Tunisia played at the 2006 World Cup finals.
“Our group is a very tough group, it's the only one that has two teams that played in the last World Cup. It's a well-balanced group which will give us the opportunity to properly assess our players. We have to qualify for the next round and go as far as we can in the finals.”