Santana says he is up to Bafana challenge

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Santana was speaking to the media this afternoon at Safa House in Johannesburg, for the first time since arriving in the country on Sunday.

The coach, who has been granted his South African work permit by the Department of Home Affairs, says he is honoured to be the coach of Bafana Bafana.

“I am not here on a safari and I don’t like to talk a lot, but I will talk through my work on the training pitch. To be given such a responsibility makes me feel proud and emotional. Today is a very important day in my professional coaching career.

“This morning I was introduced to the staff that I will be working with and I was very excited because of the enthusiasm that I picked up from this introduction meeting,” says Santana.

Asked what motivated him to accept this position in the background of possible other offers to coach elsewhere, Santana responded with a question: “Which coach in the world would have turned down an opportunity to coach South Africa?

“I can also tell you that I have had other offers, but to me an offer is the one which is received in writing. The other offers I got were verbal and I therefore did not take them serious.”

Explaining issues around his international experience, Santana says he has been a coach for 25 years.

“If I were to read out my list of achievements from my CV, I would not finish. I am the only coach in Brazil to have won four times the Rio de Janeiro State Championships with four different clubs.

“I have coached in Saudi Arabia, in Japan and the United Arab Emirates. But I don’t believe in coming here and start making promises about my work, but I believe we will do a lot of work to make sure that we present a competitive team in the 2010 World Cup.”

Santana says the simple answer to why he thinks he was recommended for the job by his predecessor, Carlos Alberto Parreira, is because they had worked together in three national teams. He says he has known and been friends with Parreira for 20 years.

“For a man of his stature to have recommended me to this job, it means he is confident of my work and abilities. That alone is an honour. I don’t want to let him down or South Africa. By leaving my country to come this far means I have dedicated myself to South Africa.”

Santana says he is happy working with Parreira’s two assistants, Jairo Leal and Pitso Mosimane.

“I have worked with Jairo, who is very good at what he does. We get on well as we share the same football philosophy.

“Carlos and Jairo told me that Pitso is a very competent coach so I have no problem with that. And for those who say they don’t know me, they will know me soon.”

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