I have good gut feeling: South Africa's Parreira

By Mark Gleeson

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said he had "a good feeling in the pit of my stomach" about South Africa's World Cup chances despite the host nation being among the lowest-ranked teams in the tournament.

Parreira said a recent 4-0 friendly win over Thailand and increased intensity in training had given him a positive feeling.

South Africa, drawn with France, Mexico and Uruguay in Group A, are seeking to avoid becoming the first World Cup hosts to fail to get past the first round of their tournament.

"My stomach tells me we are going to do well. I have a very positive feeling. Every time I see them (the players) train, they are looking better and better. Every day they spent together, you can see the improvement," he told a media briefing Sunday.

South Africa play Bulgaria in Soweto Monday as they continue their preparations for the opening World Cup game against Mexico in Johannesburg on June 11.

"The idea is to take it step-by-step but always go forward, never going backwards," Parreira said.

"We want to keep improving on every performance and then we should have the confidence that we are going to do well at the World Cup."

South Africa then face Colombia Thursday and Parreira said he wanted another international on May 31 before his team's final warm-up game against Denmark on June 5 in Pretoria.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)