Team: South Africa
Colours: Yellow shirts and socks, green shorts
Nickname: Bafana Bafana (the young lads)
Previous World Cup appearances: (2) 1998, 2002
Best World Cup performance: Failed to get past the first round in previous appearances
Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira
Most capped player: Aaron Mokoena 97
Top scorer: Benni McCarthy 31
FIFA Ranking (Apr 10) : 90
South Africa Squad
One African Cup of Nations title and two World Cup appearances show that South Africa has accomplished a great deal since being readmitted to CAF and FIFA in the early 90`s.
The side has a number of players plying their trade in Europe and within a variety of leagues ranging from the Premier League to the Israeli top flight. The South African Premier Soccer League is improving fast, with a decent amount of Bafana players being sourced from teams such as Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
South Africa qualified automatically for the competition as hosts of the 2010 World Cup. They beat bids from other African countries in order to secure the first ever World Cup to be held on the continent.
Skilful and quick, a number of the South African players are technically gifted and are confident enough to go for the dribble when others may not. Goalkeepers have always been of a high quality in the host nation, and the present crop is no different.
At the moment, the main problem that Bafana have is finding the back of the net. The last two matches have ended in goalless draws, and the side has struggled to score goals since the Confederations Cup in June.
The man trying to lead South Africa to glory, or at least to pride in front of the world’s audience, is Carlos Alberto Parreira. After his fellow Brazilian was sacked by SAFA, the experienced former World Cup winning coach returned to the side after originally leaving for family reasons. He seems to have a way with the Bafana players, and may be the right man to improve the team.
Benni McCarthy (Blackburn Rovers): In attack, the team boasts the services of Benni McCarthy. The Blackburn Rovers striker and Bafana`s all-time leading goal scorer has the 50 goal mark as his target, with 31 strikes to his name. He has played in some of Europe’s top leagues and his experience will be important for the squad.
Steven Pienaar (Everton): The skilful Everton midfielder was recently voted South African Player of the Year, and for good reason, as his presence in the Bafana midfield is a must in big game situations, as a quick pass from Pienaar can often settle the match for South Africa.
Bernard Parker (FC Twente): Parker has impressed with Bafana since his debut, scoring and being one of the few consistent players in a disappointing time for the hosts. His finishing is what allows him to score and settle matches in pressure situations, often making use of the only chance of the game.
BEST FOOTBALLING MOMENT
Winning the African Cup of Nations title in 1996 when the South Africans hosted the tournament, beating Ghana 3-0 in the semi-final before defeating a strong Tunisian side 2-0 in the final. Another significant moment was the first ever qualification for the FIFA World Cup in 1997, when Bafana secured their place at France 98.
OFF THE PITCH
Famous for: Their victories on other pitches in the form of rugby and cricket. The South Africans are current rugby World Cup champions and the cricket team is ranked number one in the world. Cultural diversity is another South African characteristic since the fall of apartheid, with 11 official languages and a national anthem, which makes use of five of them.
Most likely to: Sing and dance their way through the tournament accompanied by an army of vuvuzela inspired fans.
WORLD CUP OBJECTIVE
Second round. As hosts of the major football event, anything less than qualification from the group stage would be a great disappointment for a nation who is fiercely supportive of their national team, and a host country that is determined to succeed on and off the playing field.