The 2010 World Cup in South Africa is now 800 days away, and while progress is being made on the ground, the host team is in disarray, says Rob Hughes of the International Herald Tribune. A miserable 71st in FIFA's world rankings, South Africa doesn't even crack Africa's top ten. With a series of poor performances behind them, the Bafana Bafana next play host to Paraguay near Pretoria, the nation's capital, Wednesday night.
The South African soccer federation is paying former Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira $223,000 per month to turn its team into a respectable side with little more than two years before the World Cup kicks off. Some in the South African press are already calling for his head. Others simply think it's a lost cause. "I pity Parreira because he is going to fail," said Butana Komphela, chairman of the government portfolio committee on sport and recreation. "We are happy with the 2010 progress; the only thing we are not happy about is the team."
The situation is so bad, in fact, that the nation's sports minister recently suggested that the top 50 or so South African soccer players be taken from their clubs to train together exclusively for 2010. FIFA no doubt took notice of that one. And while this would never happen, as FIFA prohibits such political interference, there might have been sanctions for those comments if South Africa wasn't the 2010 host.