Team: South Africa
Fifa Ranking: 85
Notable World Cup History: Best finish was in the Group Stage, Korea/Japan, 2002
Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira
GK Itumeleng Khune
Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa, Bevan Fransman, Matthew Booth, Tsepo Masilela
Midfield: Teko Modise, Aaron Mokoena, Steven Pienaar, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Siphiwe Tshabalala
Strikers: Katlego Mphela
Steven Pienaar: The quick and skillful Everton midfielder was recently voted South African Player of the Year. His leadership in the midfield, along with his pace and lungpower to make piercing runs in the attack, can cause a stir for opponents.
The Bafana have made it back to the World Cup once again but the harsh reality is that if the hosts weren’t putting on the party in South Africa, they wouldn’t have been invited.
Ranked 85th in the world, South Africa crashed out in the qualification rounds in 2006 in their attempt to make the last World Cup, as well they also failed to qualify for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.
Now the team have a lot more on their shoulders as they have to face the likes of Mexico, France, and Uruguay in Group A, all teams that are amongst the top twenty in the world.
They have only one win in seven matches combined against the three countries; therefore the odds are not in their favour to advance to the next round.
Hope is not all lost, as South Africa’s biggest advantage is playing at home, where they will outnumber their opponent’s fans by the millions. The possibility is there that support from its people is what South Africa needs to inspire a World Cup upset.
Additionally, they have renowned coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who is back for a second tour of duty with the squad and famously managed Brazil to the championship in 1994.
Unfortunately, the host nation of the World Cup has never failed to advance into the quarterfinals but there’s always a first time for everything and there’s a good chance South Africa may go down as the worst host team in the competition’s history.