| RIO DE JANEIRO, April 21
RIO DE JANEIRO, April 21 Hosts South Africa are
set to place their 2010 World Cup fortunes, and possibly those
of the tournament's success, in the hands of a Brazilian
journeyman coach and his trusted clipboard.
Joel Santana, 59, appeared to be reaching the end of what,
until now, had been a typical career for a Brazilian coach in
which he has won trophies and been sacked by a succession of
clubs, only to keep coming back for more.
Yet, despite having no experience with a national side and
only a couple of brief stints with clubs in the Middle East and
Japan, Santana has been given the chance to coach the host
nation of the first World Cup to be played on African soil.
On Monday, Santana's club Flamengo said that he had agreed
terms to replace compatriot Carlos Alberto Parreira, who quit
the 'Bafana Bafana' for personal reasons. The decision has
still to be confirmed by the South Africa Football Association
The coach is known for his down-to-earth style and his
trademark clipboard, which he has faithfully stood by in an age
when many fellow coaches have turned to laptop computers.
Describing the offer as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,
he was typically modest on Monday.
"I'm happy that I'm being recognised outside Brazil. It
shows that my work is not all that bad," he said.
Santana is a veteran survivor of the topsy-turvy world of
Brazilian coaching where success, though wildly celebrated, is
He has had a remarkable four stints with both Flamengo and
Fluminense and three with their Rio de Janeiro rivals Vasco da
Santana has also coached Botafogo, Bahia, Vitoria,
Coritiba, Corinthians, Guarani and Internacional.
He has won the Carioca (Rio de Janeiro state) championship
with Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo and Vasco, plus the
Brazilian championship and Copa Mercosur with Vasco.
But he has also experienced the other side of the coin and
is no stranger to the sack.
Between 2003 and 2004, he was fired by four clubs, lasting
five games at Guarani and 16 in a subsequent spell at
But in 2005, he bounced back to save Flamengo from
relegation and returned to the same club two years later, where
he led them from 15th place in the Brazilian championship to a
top-four finish and a place in the South American Libertadores
Most commentators agreed that the sum of Flamengo's team
was greater than its parts, a quality which may have attracted
the South Africans.
Santana will again have limited resources at his disposal,
yet South Africa are seen as needing to perform well in 2010 to
maintain local enthusiasm for the tournament.
But, after four spells with a club who claim to have 25
million fans and boast one of the most fickle followings
anywhere, pressure is something that Santana is more than used
to coping with.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by John O'Brien)