BAFANA BAFANA striker Bernard Parker told yesterday how he went from zero to hero in the space of four days - thanks to his teammates.
The unsettled Red Star Belgrade target man was the villain during Bafana's disappointing 0-0 draw against Iraq in their opening Confederations Cup Group A clash at Ellis Park last Sunday.
But he was the two-goal hero and man of the match when he led Bafana to a comfortable 2-0 win over outclassed New Zealand at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Wednesday night to keep Bafana's hopes of qualifying for the semifinals alive.
On Sunday, Parker had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when he somehow managed to clear teammate Tsepo Masilela's goal-bound shot off the Iraq goal line.
That goal would have given Bafana an extra two points and ensured their passage into the semifinals alongside Group A leaders Spain.
But to his credit Boksburg-born Parker showed tremendous determination. Coach Joel Santana told him to go out against New Zealand and wipe away that memory.
Parker, making his 17th appearance and notching his sixth and seventh goals for his country, showed a lot of humility when asked how he felt after that "goalmouth clearance".
Said Parker: "My teammates supported me. Straight after the game they gathered around and told me not to worry, these things happen. That is what team spirit is all about and that is one thing we have in big supply.
"We are all teammates and look out for each other. So when my name was read out by the coach today that I was starting, it was the biggest boost of all.
"The coach showed faith in me and I wanted to go out and repay that faith. The coach has worked wonders for my confidence and now I have put the other incident out of my mind and I hope I can do what I enjoy most, and that's scoring - not stopping - goals."
Parker has shown he has the quality that separates a special player from an ordinary one - determination and guts.
Now he has to continue and help Bafana when they face their biggest test of all against European champions Spain in the final group fixture in Bloemfontein tomorrow night (8.30).
Bafana need a point to reach the last four. - Sapa