Goal.com spoke exclusively with former South African national coach Ted Dumitru on the host nation's prospects at the 2010 World Cup.
Goal.com: Who do you think will win the first World Cup to be staged on African soil?
Dumitru: My choice is between Brazil and Spain. They are the two teams capable of raising the bar when it matters the most. Their levels of professionalism are very high and they have a strong personality in every department.
Goal.com: How do you feel about the current Bafana side? What are they missing?
Dumitru: Well, I think the neglect of development structures is killing our football big time. Our players lack international exposure, come to think of it our players are only exposed to international football between the age of 25 and 26. That’s unthinkable for any team wanting to compete with the best. If we want to challenge the world we have to expose these players to the international scene at a tender age.
Another point that is killing our game is poor interest by the administrators in developing local coaches. I was really impressed while listening to coach Carlos Alberto Parreira talking about the fact that South Africa must identify the players' strengths which are skill and mobility, then try to develop them and local coaches must come to the party in that regard.
Goal.com: What do you think of South Africa's Group A rivals?
Dumitru: They are very difficult. I think this is the most competitive group of the tournament. Take Mexico for instance, who are a team that often does well in big tournaments like the World Cup. They are very fast and skillful when going forward, they are just brilliant and they retreat quickly to defend as a whole.
They are one of the trickiest opponents one can ever come up against. Let's not forget France, they are an ambitious side made up mostly of players of African descent and this could well count in their favour. What will be key is getting results, if we can put our mind to it then we can cause upsets.
Goal.com: What can South Africa do to progress from the group stages?
Dumitru: Of course good preparation is all the team needs, the camp in Brazil and Germany is a very good choice. I am happy that the coach is taking the team to Brazil away from the spotlight and pressure of other sporting teams like rugby and cricket. This will give players a chance to work on their game without having to worry more about who is watching and publicity surrounding them.
Brazil is a perfect place for us as the people there share a lot in common with us and this will be conducive for the players and technical staff. Remember, about 40 per cent of the Brazilian team is made up of players of African descent; this means the players will be more comfortable in that part of the world.
Goal.com: Who can be the star of the Bafana team at the World Cup?
Dumitru: This is a question that neither of us can answer. I mean, the boys lack consistency and this is killing us. The team doesn't have a steady performer, someone you can rely on, that’s what I can say.
Goal.com: If you were coach of South Africa, what would you do differently to Carlos Alberto Parreira?
Dumitru: There is nothing more to change. Carlos is an experienced coach and has a strong understanding of our football. Him coming to South Africa was a good move in the sense that he is from Brazil and has worked with players of African descent so this makes it easy for him to understand our players on all spheres of their lives.
What I would add on this great character is more consultation with local coaches and to make sure they understand what is expected of players.
Goal.com: Talking about life after the World Cup, you also had your time in charge of the national team, but would you be interested in taking over the team again should SAFA give you the opportunity?
Dumitru: One thing is for certain; the next man in charge has to be a local coach, someone who will understand the culture and tradition of our players. To answer your question I wouldn't take the Bafana job, but I will assist in terms of player development.
Currently I am working on a huge project at the Sundowns high performance centre developing young players and I promise you in the next World Cups at least 10 of my players will make the cut into the team.
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