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South Africa

South Africa

Team Widget

Team Profile: South Africa

GettyImagesSouth Africa played at their first finals in 1998

Appearances at finals:

1998 - First round
2002 - First round

Overall record at finals: Played 6, Won 1, Draw 3, Lost 2.

Best performance: First round in 1998 and 2002.

Most appearances at finals: Lucas Radebe (1998, 2002), Quinton Fortune (1998, 2002), Benni McCarthy (1998, 2002) - 6.

Most goals at finals: Benni McCarthy (1998, 2002), Shaun Bartlett (1998) - 2.

World Cup high: Their first ever finals victory at their second tournament appearance in 2002, beating Slovenia 1-0 with a Siyabonga Nomvethe goal the difference between the sides.

World Cup low: Bafana Bafana's embarrassing failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, finishing third in their qualification group behind Ghana and Congo DR, after having been named hosts of the 2010 tournament.

World Cup legend: Benni McCarthy is the country's record goal-scorer and second most capped player, with 31 goals in 76 appearances. He scored at the 1998 and 2002 tournaments against Denmark and Spain respectively.

The story so far: The history of the South African football team, like the country itself, has been greatly affected by the system of apartheid. The enforced racial segregation of the country was hugely contentious and numerous attempts were made to suspend the national side from FIFA because the country's constitution prohibited the fielding of racially mixed teams. But South Africa, along with Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, were one of the founding members of the Confederation of African Football and continued to escape expulsion because of a widespread reluctance for FIFA to become embroiled in political matters.

They were suspended from FIFA competition in 1966 but, after the violence of the Soweto uprising in 1976, a horrified FIFA finally expelled South Africa and the national team would not play again for 16 years. In 1991, as apartheid drew to a close, a new multi-racial South African Football Association was born and the new team played its first game against Cameroon in 1992, winning 1-0. Four years later, hosting and competing in their first African Nations Cup as a multi-racial side, Bafana Bafana lifted the trophy and were joined in celebration by an overjoyed Nelson Mandela.

They went on to play in the 1998 World Cup in France and, after being soundly beaten 3-0 by the hosts in their first ever finals match, South Africa went on to earn admirable draws against Denmark and Saudi Arabia, but finished in third place in the group, two points behind the Danes.

At the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, an improved South Africa side were agonisingly close to making the second round, missing out to Paraguay on goals scored. A 2-2 draw with the South Americans in the first game was followed up by a first finals victory, a 1-0 win over Slovenia. In their final game against Spain, Bafana Bafana twice came from behind but were denied by a Raul goal as Jose Antonio Camacho's side narrowly triumphed 3-2. A disappointing failure to qualify for the 2006 finals followed but in 2004 it had been announced that, in 2010, South Africa would become the first African country to host the World Cup.

Qualification: As hosts, South Africa qualified for the tournament automatically but did play a number of friendlies while qualification was taking place. They were involved in the first stage of African qualifying with a place at the 2010 African Nations Cup at stake but finished 11 points adrift of Nigeria in the group, missing out on a place at the tournament.

It has been a tumultuous time for Bafana Bafana and, although they performed creditably at the Confederations Cup - losing in the semi-finals to Brazil and the third place play-off to European Championship winners Spain by just a single goal - they continued to crash to defeat after defeat in friendlies, which eventually saw the sacking of boss Joel Santana and the re-appointment of former boss Carlos Parreira.

Qualifying record (second round): P6, W2, D1, L3, F5, A5, Pts7.

Confederations Cup record: P5, W1, D1, L3, F4, A6.

Most appearances: Kagisho Dikgacoi (11).

Top goalscorer: Kagisho Dikgacoi, Katlego Mphela, Bernard Parker (2).