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LIVE: Sergio Ramos courted by Chelsea

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By ESPN Staff

Parreira to coach World Cup hosts South Africa

JOHANNESBURG, July 29 (Reuters) - Former Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has signed a four-year deal to take charge of 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa, officials said on Saturday.

The deal was concluded in Rio de Janeiro on Friday after talks between Parreira and a delegation from the South African Football Association.

South African Football Association president Molefi Oliphant told Reuters on Saturday 'everything is signed and sealed'.

'This is an exciting time for South African football. The association has now delivered a world class coach for the team. It's now up to him and the players to turn our side into a strong force,' Oliphant said.

He was unsure when Parreira would start in his new job but the Brazilian has already stated a preference for the beginning of 2007.

South Africa, however, begin their qualifying campaign for the 2008 African Nations Cup finals with a home match against Congo in Johannesburg on Sept. 2.

They will also meet Zambia away in a potentially key group match in October. There is also a friendly scheduled against Namibia in Windhoek on Aug. 16 but caretaker coach Pitso Mosimane has already been mandated to pick the squad for that game.

Parreira will become the 14th coach for South Africa since the country returned to international competition 14 years ago.

During that time they have twice qualified for the World Cup finals and won the 1996 African Nations Cup title but have won just three of their last 18 internationals played over the last 12 months in a slump that has seen them fall dramatically in the FIFA world rankings.

Last week Parreira released a statement in Rio de Janeiro, saying: 'It is an honour to receive an invitation from the South African national team as the country will be the centre of attention as hosts of the next World Cup.'

The 2010 tournament offers Parreira an opportunity to coach at a record-breaking sixth World Cup.

The 63-year-old led Brazil to the 1994 title and also took charge of them at this year's tournament in Germany. In 1982 he was coach of Kuwait, took the United Arab Emirates to the 1990 finals and in 1998 was fired after Saudi Arabia's first two matches in France.

Parreira's previous African experience was on the coaching staff of Ghana when they reached the final of the African Nations Cup in 1968 - almost 40 years ago when he was in his mid-20s.