Parreira returns as South Africa coach

JOHANNESBURG - Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira has been appointed South Africa coach for the 2010 World Cup finals, resuming a job he left 18 months ago, the country's football association announced on Friday.

Parreira is now on course to participate in a record sixth World Cup as coach after being named to succeed compatriot Joel Santana, who was fired on Monday after a run of poor results for the World Cup hosts in recent warm-up matches.

The 66-year-old Parreira was first approached in 2006 to build a competitive side for South Africa's hosting of the 2010 World Cup finals but quit after 21 matches in charge in April 2008 when his wife fell ill with cancer.

He returned to Rio de Janeiro to tend to her, recommending Santana in his place.

But Santana had little of the charisma of his compatriot and after 18 months was asked to step down after South Africa lost eight of their last nine matches and looked a listless team some eight months before the start of the World Cup. TIME CONSTRAINT

"The reason for opting for Parreira so quickly is that we have a massive time constraint with the World Cup just around the corner," South African Football Association (SAFA) president Kirsten Nematandani told a news conference.

"I will be honest and say that we knew other South African-born coaches were keen to be appointed. But we simply did not have the time to short-list candidates."

Parreira's return has been criticised by several prominent South African footballing personalities, including former coaches who felt it was time to appoint a local to guide the team at the World Cup finals.

But SAFA said they had already started talking to Parreira abut a possible return before firing Santana.

"It was a job we started three years ago," said Parreira. "Unfortunately, for family reasons, I had to interrupt it but now they (South Africa) have resumed that project.

"I was only able to accept, and only accepted, because I'm not going to start the job from zero," he told Brazilian TV.

"There's very little time left for the World Cup but the job had already begun, I already know the players, the style, the work... Without doubt that will help with this resumption. CUP WINNER

Parreira was a World Cup winner with Brazil in 1994 and also in charge of his country's campaign at the last finals in 2006. He was also in charge of Kuwait in 1982, the United Arab Emirates in 1990 and Saudi Arabia in 1998.

South Africa's next matches are at home to Japan on November 14 and Jamaica three days later.

Parreira, among 15 coaches South Africa have used over the last 17 years, will have the squad for a month in January when the local league shuts down to allow for a training camp.

Further camps are planned for Brazil and Germany in the build-up to the month-long finals.

Nematandani said Parreira would be paid a lot less than the controversial salary of some US$180,000 a month he received during his previous stint.

His contract runs until after the 2010 finals following which a local coach will be appointed to the job, the association's president said.

"When you organise a World Cup, the (home) fans are emotional and above all irrational," said Parreira.

"The best thing is to get as close to the final as possible but our obligation is to reach the second phase. Then, the sky's the limit, they are knockout matches, anything can happen."

The World Cup will be hosted in 10 venues across South Africa from June 11 to July 11.