National Team: South Africa
Host for 2010 FIFA World Cup is South Africa - country with motto “Unity in Diversity.” South Africa National Football Team qualifies for 2010 world cup as hosts. South African Football Association is the governing body for football in South Africa. Current FIFA ranking of the team is 73 and they acquire all time highest ranking i.e., 16 in August 1996. South Africa is the first African country to organize FIFA world Cup on their soil.
National football team of South Africa is also known as “Bafana Bafana” which means “The boys, The boys.” The team played its first international match against Netherlands on 2nd November 1924 at Amsterdam. After 31 years, South Africans registered their biggest victory ever in the football history against Australia with a huge difference of 8 goals and Australian team could not breach the defense of the guests. However, against the same team South Africa saw its biggest defeat in 1947. South African team lost to Australia by 5-1.
At the time of Colonialism, British soldiers started playing football in South Africa in late nineteenth century. However, right from the early days of the game in the country, racial segregation affected very badly the organized football. There were several associations for football however, associations work only on the basis of race and color. The first association was All White Football Association of South Africa (FASA) was formed in 1892. As the name suggests, FASA dedicated to white players only. Later on, other associations came into existence to work for left out races. South African Indian Football Association (SAIFA) was the first after FASA in 1903. Afterwards, two more associations South African Colored Football Association (SACFA) and South African Bantu Football Association (SABFA) came into picture in 1936 and 1933 respectively.
South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan were the four African nations who attended FIFA’s congress in 1953 and won representation on the FIFA executive committee. This decision leads to the foundation of the Confederation of African Football in 1956. In 1957 African Cup Nations, South Africa faced disqualification because of racial discrimination. Due to apartheid system in South Africa, the national football team was officially expelled from FIFA.
In 1991, South African Football Association was admitted to FIFA. The association was multiracial. National football team of South Africa played first game after two decades on 7 July 1992. The team played against Cameron and win by 1-0. The team qualified for 1998 and 2002 world cup. IN 1998, Benni McCarthy became the first footballer to score a goal in world cup for South Africa. He netted the goal against Denmark however, match ended in a draw with final score of 1-1.
McCarthy is not only the first player to score a goal but also the highest scorer for South Africa national football team. He played 76 matches as a striker and scored 31 goals. Currently he is playing for Blackburn Rovers football Club. The striker was the top scorer of 1998 African Cup of Nations that was held in Burkina Faso. He netted seven goals and four were against Namibia within first 13 minutes of the game.
In FIFA World Cup 2002 that was held in Korea and Japan, McCarthy scored his first goal against Spain 31st minute however; South Africa couldn’t win the match. He started his football career with Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax in 1997-98. Before playing for Blackburn Rovers South African top scorer played for Celta Vigo and F.C. Porto from 1999 to 2003 and 2001-2006 respectively.
He was part of Ajax squad who consecutively won KNVB cup in 1997-98 and 1998-99 and also played in Eredivisie Football League in The Netherlands in 1997-98 which was also won by Ajax. While playing for Porto he helped the team to won Portuguese Liga, Portuguese Cup, Portuguese Supercup, UEFA Champions League and Intercontinental Cup.
As of now, Joel Santana is the head coach of the South African National Football team and preparing them for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Santana is managing and coaching clubs since 1980. He coached clubs in Japan and Saudi Arabia. South African coach also won various Managerial honors such as Campeonato Carioca in 1970, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 2008. Other honors include Campeonato Baiano, Campeonato Potiguar and Copa Mercosur.
Current South African team is led by Aaron Mokoena. The defender has played 90 matches, highest by any South African footballer. Captain of Bafana Bafana also plays for Portsmouth football club. Before coming to Portsmouth Mokoena played for Ajax and Bayer Leverkusen.
South Africa national football team qualified twice for Confederation cup, first in 1997 where team could not reach the second round however, in 2009 they were able to secure 4th place. In African Nations Cup, Bafana Bafana won the title in 1996. However, in 1998 and 2000 they need to satisfy themselves with second and third place respectively. The team also has a good record on COSAFA Senior challenge cup. They won the tournament thrice, first in 2002 and consecutively in 2007 and 2008.
Home stadium for national football team of South Africa is First National Bank Stadium (FNB), which is located in Johannesburg. Grass surfaced stadium has a capacity of 91,141, third largest in Africa. Opening and final matches of 2010 FIFA World Cup are going to be held FNB along with six other matches of the tournament.
At present, the home kit of the team comprises green jersey with yellow trims and yellow shorts and green socks. And while playing away from home, team’s kit comprises same colors however, in different assortments. At fields, you can see South African players in green-yellow jersey, green shorts and yellow socks. As of now, the team is playing friendly matches. In upcoming matches Bafana Bafana will face Madagascar, Norway, Iceland and Japan.
Current squad of South Africa consists of experienced players like defender and Captain Aaron Mokoena, goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez, midfielders Macbeth Sibaya and Teko Modise. The experienced players will get support of young yet very talented players to show their mettle at home grounds.