Parreira coached a side boasting talents such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka but they eventually fell to France at the quarterfinal stage.
Talking to noted South American soccer scribe Brian Homewood of Reuters, Parreira said his challenge with South Africa is to rescue the team from years of freefall and shape a competitive side by 2010.
“What pleases you at the end of the day is to see the team performing well and developing. This type of work is more pleasing for the coach, to start from scratch and build something.”
Leading Brazil’s big-name players, on the other hand, was a no-win situation.
“In Brazil, you don’t know the name of any Brazilian coach who has won the World Cup. But you know the names of all the coaches who didn’t win it,” said Parreira, who led Brazil to World Cup victory in a previous stint in 1994.
“If we had won the last World Cup in Germany, it wouldn’t have been down to me, it would have been thanks to Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka.... This job is more satisfying because we don’t have these problems.”
Parreira, who enjoys painting and cooking in his spare time, nearly turned the job down after details of his salary were discussed in the media.
“I almost did not sign because of that but then I stayed for one week and they convinced me that this was part of the media.”
“In any case, I told them that I didn't come here because of the salary. After 38 years of working in football, my life is set up. I have a nice house in Angra (on the Brazilian coast) and a boat. It's a beautiful place; I can go fishing and spend time with my grandchildren. I never get tired of going there.
“I’m not a millionaire but I can live well. I came to South Africa because this is the country which is going to promote the World Cup, the biggest event in the world.” Instead of relaxing on his boat, Parreira now finds himself in a modest hotel in Tamale, where goats roam in the dusty streets outside.
Parreira says his priority is to give his side a South American touch rather than the English-style long-ball game.
“Football in South Africa is goalkeeper-to-goalkeeper. Santos is the only team which tries to keep the ball on the ground,” he said.
“It’s a tough job to change the philosophy, telling the players that instead of walloping the ball, they must pass it.
“But if you look at the other teams here in Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia for example, the central defenders are huge, so if you try the high ball you make it easy for them. If you keep it on the ground, you can create problems.”
“In the physical tussle, we won’t beat them. We have to beat them with organisation and technical quality.”
“The Angola match gave us hope that the future could be bright, but it's too short a time for the World Cup. This work should have been done four or five years ago.