Santana exit may hasten the return of Parreira

Kirsten Nematandani, the South African football president, is remaining tight-lipped on any possible successors to Joel Santana following the exit of the national coach.

The Brazilian, who had come under increased pressure after a run of poor results, ended his 18-month stay in charge of the 2010 World Cup hosts by tendering his resignation on Monday.

His departure paved the way for a possible return of the former coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, the man who recommended Santana after he walked out on Bafana Bafana in April last year.

Parreira, who was at the helm when Brazil became world champions in 1994, is considered the front-runner for the job he held between February 2007 and April 2008; local coaches Gavin Hunt and Gordon Igesund are also in the mix.

However, Nematandani says the South African Football Association (SAFA) will keep their options open as they bid to inject new life into the national team.

"Our job is to now look for a new coach," the SAFA president said. "We will look both locally and internationally for the right man.

"We will meet again on Friday and look at some recommendations. At the moment, I can't say much about that process; what I can say is that we all felt this was in the best interest of the team going forward."

Nematandani was referring to the way in which the national side has capitulated in recent times. After a reasonably successful Confederations Cup in June – they reached the last four – Santana found the going tough, with only one win coming in the team's past nine outings.

That victory came against lowly Madagascar as the 1996 African Nations Cup champions dropped to 85th in the latest FIFA rankings – their lowest since the country's readmission to the world stage in the early 1990s.

Nematandani's No2, Mandla Mazibuko, believed Santana appeared to have lost faith in the team. He said: "We asked him to present a report on what was wrong with the team because, frankly, we haven't been doing well. During our discussions, he admitted he couldn't do more than he has to improve the team.

"He conceded he and the players were demoralised because of the poor results. He said he had tried his best, but we agreed it was not good enough. The reality is that we have a crisis, and when the team is in this state, you don't wait another day, you act now."

Parreira told Brazilian newspaper O'Globo: "My return is possible. If I receive a proposal [from SAFA] I would study it fondly because I know they like me very much. But the pressure is immense there."

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