Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira strongly believes the recent 3-0 win over Paraguay was the turning point in their quest to do well in the 2010 World Cup.
The Brazilian also denies that England-based striker Benni McCarthy was given a free role to choose the games in which he wants to feature.
This was after McCarthy was not included in the team that represented South Africa in the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana earlier this year.
In what is likely to come as a surprise to many South Africans, Parreira has bought the CDs of singer Judith Sephuma, the Soweto Gospel Choir and Joyous Celebration.
In a wide-ranging interview with Sowetan sports writer Ramatsiyi Moholoa yesterday, Parreira said there was no shred of doubt that Bafana Bafana were on course.
RM: What is the progress like in terms of your 2010 World Cup preparations?
CAP: We started the campaign by coming up with a four-year plan, everything is on track. We decided 2007 and 2008 will be used to scout and watch the games.
The plan is to have three or four players for one position. It was important to dig deeper because we do not have development leagues.
We have done an unbelievable amount of work in 14 months, we saw around 126 games and more than 90 players. We played friendly games, but did not rely on the Fifa dates.
The PSL were very accommodative. They allowed us to play some of the games such as the one against Zimbabwe where we used 17 players.
We also organised mini- training camps. Though it was a headache, the Cosafa Cup was also good for us in terms of preparations and to look at some of the players.
We used the Africa Cup of Nations to reshape Bafana Bafana where we brought in a number of young players. I was happy we performed better than in Egypt (2006).
RM: You must be happy with the sudden turn of events in the recent game against Paraguay? It was also great to see Bafana Bafana players shooting from outside the 18-yard area, what did you say to them?
CAP: We are happy with the performance, it was also good that we created many scoring chances, which augurs well for our preparations.
We had to use more or less the same team we used in Ghana to see if we are on track. We told them to go out there and have fun, just like it is done in Brazil.
RM: In terms of the friendlies in the build-up to the 2009 Confederations Cup, what are your plans?
CAP: Fifa is giving every team 15 days to prepare for the tournament, but we hope we will engage the PSL to see if they can't give us two more weeks.
RM: Will it be fair to assess the Bafana Bafana 2010 World Cup performance on the Confederations Cup?
CAP: We will still be on a building process. Countries such as Mexico, Japan and Germany were struggling a few weeks before the previous World Cups.
In 2006, Germany played badly and were even defeated 2-0 by Japan. It also happened with Korea in 2002, but they went on to do well when the World Cup started.
The Confederations Cup will help us to assess our readiness and work on speed and the fitness levels of the players.
RM: The new African Champions Cup is for locally-based players, what do you think of it?
CAP: We have decided to give it to the youth team, we can't fit it into the PSL programme.
One can play 70 games in a season at club level, feature in various competitions, the league on Sunday and Wednesday as well as CAF (Champions League and Confederations Cup) games.
We need to reduce the competitions, or the players can't have enough rest. I know it will be difficult but football is now controlled by sponsors and television.
RM: Coach, there are players such as Siyabonga Nomvete, Benedict Vilakazi, Siyabonga Nkosi, Jeff Ntuka and Masilo Modubi. Why are we not seeing them in the team?
CAP: They are still on our list, we will always call them if there is a need.
We get a report of all the overseas-based players every Tuesday and discuss it. If a player did not feature in a game, we phone his coach to check what's the problem. Vilakazi's problem is that he has not been playing since he went to Denmark. He was not even part of the team that went for a pre-season camp. If I were to advice him, I would urge him to go to a club or country where he will play regularly.
RM: There is a feeling among many South Africans that Benni McCarthy is selecting games. He asked you (technical staff) not to select him for the Afcon but featured in the Paraguay game in order to better his goalscoring record and get more caps. How true is that?
CAP: It is not true. We decided not to select him for the Afcon. We won't allow players to dictate to us, I will never compromise on that one.
RM: On a lighter note, what is your favourite South African dish?
CAP: I'm not a choosy person, I eat everything from chicken, fish and seafood. But like any other Brazilian, I love pasta.
RM: Favourite music, any South African singer or group that has impressed you?
CAP: I can't remember the man's name, but the woman is Judith (Sephuma). I'm also in love with the Soweto Gospel Choir and Joyous (Celebration).
RM: Your favourite SA city?
CAP: There are good places such as Cape Town and Durban. But, Johannesburg is the best for me.