Parker eyes champs league
Serbia-based Bernard Parker, who looks set to spearhead Bafana Bafana's attack in the Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup, is relishing the prospect of featuring in the European Champions League next year.
"We [Red Star Belgrade] are firmly challenging for the league title, we are second on the log and there are still 11 games to go before the season ends," said the former Thanda Royal Zulu ace marksman from Reiger Park in Boksburg.
Red Star Belgrade, the most popular club in Serbia, are involved in a neck-and-neck race for the championship title with reigning champions FC Partizan, who finished second to Red Star last season.
"Red Star Belgrade and FC Partizan are big rivals, they are like Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs back home, but I must say it has been a great experience for me since I arrived at the club and everybody has been nice to me," said Parker.
"We have four Africans in the team, one of them is a Ghanaian [Mohammed Awal Issa] who used to play for AmaZulu back in South Africa. We also have one each from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon.
"Those guys helped me a lot to settle down. I'm enjoying myself, which is why I have been able to score two goals in four appearances, three in the starting line-up and the other one coming on as a substitute.
"I have been working very hard at training, I also give it my best shot when we play. If I don't score, I always do my utmost to contribute to the success of the team. Our supporters are used to winning and we cannot afford to disappoint them."
Asked if he was not home sick, Parker, 23, said: "Home will always be home, but one has to remember that soccer is now my professional career. I have to do the job that Red Star Belgrade brought me to Serbia for.
"But I have to confess that there are times where I really miss home, the environment in South Africa is unique."
The club has hired a private teacher to help Parker with the Serbian language.
On last week's 2-0 defeat by Portugal, Parker said: "We tried hard against a more experienced side, but it was not our day. We just have to continue working together as a team. I have every reason to believe that we will do well in the Confederations Cup.
"The bigger picture for us is the 2010 World Cup. People back home must just support the team. We are building a solid team for the World Cup."