Rare praise for South Africa from Parreira

JOHANNESBURG - World Cup hosts South Africa received rare praise from their coach after a team of home-based players held Paraguay to a 1-1 draw in Asuncion in a warm-up friendly on Wednesday.

Carlos Alberto Parreira, who had taken a 29-man squad to South America for one month's intensive training, said he was proud of the achievement by his side, whose form over the last year has been markedly patchy.

South Africa, without any of their foreign-based contingent, equalised in the 72nd minute after being 1-0 down at the break.

"We were in the lion's cage and the team showed a lot of character by coming from behind," Parreira told South African reporters on Thursday.

"I'm proud of them for just that. The likes of Brazil and Argentina have all come here and struggled, so we did well in this match," he added.

South Africa's squad return home on Monday but will go to Germany next week for a further two weeks of training.

Wednesday's result preserved South Africa's unbeaten run since Parreira returned as coach but they have drawn four games and won only once since he replaced Joel Santana in November.

They have been drawn in Group A with Mexico, Uruguay and France at the World Cup finals starting in June.

The South Africans, who have dropped to 88th in the latest FIFA world rankings, hope to avoid becoming the first World Cup host nation not to get past the first round.

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