Santana can smile now

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Coach Joel Santana reckons Bafana Bafana are on course to do the country proud during the 2009 Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup.

This comes after South Africa registered four consecutive morale lifting victories to end their 2008 campaign on a more positive note.

"I feel quite good, I'm also happy for the country. It is important not only to win games, we must also play well and be consistent," said Santana.

"Working with a national team is different from a club. At club level, the coach has more time to work with the players.

"National coaches spend two to three days with the players. When I came here, I did not know the country and people. Two weeks later, I had a game against Nigeria.

"I started five months ago by taking over from Carlos Alberto Parreira, who started the project of preparing the team for the World Cup.

"We are now midway through the project and everything is going according to plan to date. We have about 80 percent of the players.

"It is known that we had some turbulence, but I believe that in 2009 people will see how we have improved, I strongly believe we are well on track."

Santana is a happy man that Bafana Bafana are beginning to get more support from South Africans, saying it augurs well for their Confederations Cup campaign.

"At the moment, our team is like one family. We know that we have to do well in the Confederations Cup and World Cup, that's what people expect from us too.

"The Confederations Cup will be a tough tournament, all the countries participating have won competitions in their regions.

"We also have the reigning World Cup champions Italy coming, so we need to work hard in everything we do to challenge them."

Santana said they will play more friendlies next year to expose the players to international soccer, emphasising that the opposition will be the world's superpowers in the game.

"Football is like when you are in love, you need experience. That is what our team need, you can only get it if you play against giants like Brazil, Italy and Spain."

On his immediate challenges as Bafana Bafana coach, Santana said: "The problem is that some of our players are not playing regularly at their clubs."