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Steven Pienaar of South Africa, right, will try to give the hometown fans something to cheer about at the Confederations Cup. ((Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images))

SCHEDULE AND RESULTS

FIRST ROUND        
MATCH  DATE - TIME  TEAMS EXTRAS
June 14 - 10:00 AM ET  <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/sth-africa.jpg" alt="South Africa"/>[/CUSTOM] SOUTH AFRICA vs. <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/iraq.jpg" alt="Iraq"/>[/CUSTOM] IRAQ Game Report | Full Game Video | Video Highlights | Game Tracker
Venue: Johannesburg - Final Result: 0-0 draw     
June 17 - 2:30 PM ET  <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/sth-africa.jpg" alt="South Africa"/>[/CUSTOM] SOUTH AFRICA vs. <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/new-zealand.jpg" alt="New Zealand"/>[/CUSTOM] NEW ZEALAND Game Report | Full Game Video  | Video Highlights  | Game Tracker  
Venue: Rustenburg  - Final result: South Africa wins 2-0      
10  June 20 - 2:30 PM ET  <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/sth-africa.jpg" alt="South Africa"/>[/CUSTOM] SOUTH AFRICA vs. <img src="/sports/soccer/FIFAconfederationscup/includes/imgs/flags/sml/spain.jpg" alt="Spain"/>[/CUSTOM] SPAIN Game Report | Full Game Video  | Video Highlights  | Game Tracker      
Venue: Mangaung/Bloemfontein - Final result: Spain wins 2-0     

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Brian Baloyi (Mamelodi Sundowns), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Rowen Fernandez (Armenia Bielefeld, Germany)

Defenders: Matthew Booth (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Morgan Gould (SuperSport United), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth, England), Bryce Moon (Panathinaikos, Greece), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United)

Midfielders: Lance Davids (Djurgardens, Sweden), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Golden Arrows), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Benson Mhlongo (Orlando Pirates), Elrio van Heerden (Blackburn Rovers, England), Innocent Mdledle (Orlando Pirates).

Strikers: Bernard Parker (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thembinkosi Fanteni (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Katlego Mashego (Orlando Pirates)

Coach: Joel Santana

SCOUTING REPORT

Probable starting formation: (GK) Brian Baloyi - (D) Masilela , Moon, Booth, Gaxa - (M) Modise, Mokoena, Pienaar, Sibaya - (F) Mashego, Mphela

Strengths

  • Home-field advantage: This is an obvious one. The South African team will have the benefit of playing on home soil, which means they won't have to adjust to the climate and culture like other teams, and all of their games will be played before their fans, giving them a decided advantage.
  • Motivation: Maybe more than any other team in the tournament, the South Africans have plenty of motivation (for obvious reasons) to do well, not the least of which is to build some confidence and momentum ahead of next summer when the country hosts the World Cup.
  • Easy group: Okay, easy may be overstating it, especially with European champions Spain in Group A, but the hosts dodged a major bullet when Italy and Brazil were drawn into Group B. New Zealand and Iraq, the other sides in Group A, are two beatable teams for the South Africans.

Weaknesses

  • Lack of quality: Steven Pienaar and Aaron Mokoena play for English clubs, but the bulk of the players in the squad ply their trade in the unheralded South African Premier League. The fact that so few players test themselves in the top European leagues means the the national team is short on quality players.
  • Attacking options: Brazilian coach Joel Santana made a bold move when he decided not to call up all-time leading scorer Benni McCarthy for disciplinary reasons, especially when you consider the Blackburn star is South Africa's only real dangerous scoring threat.
  • Confidence: The national team is in disarray after failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup and next year's African Cup of Nations in Angola. Santana hasn't exactly inspired confidence in the South African public since taking over from countryman Carlos Alberto Parreira last year, with critics saying he's more interested in keeping his job than the genuine fortunes of the team.

Players to watch

  • Aaron Mokoena: A solid defensive midfielder who holds the record for most appearances for his country, Mokoena serves as the anchor of the South African midfield with his physical style and ball-winning ability.
  • Steven Pienaar: A player cut from the imposing mould of Patrick Vieira, the Everton star is a solid-two-way midfielder who combines defensive combativeness with creative invention
  • Teko Modise: Virtually unknown outside of Africa, Modise is a talented, attacking midfielder who has won praise for his poised play and goal-scoring ability.

Key injuries/squad omissions: Coach Joel Santana decided not to select Benni McCarthy for duty because of the Blackburn star's previous reluctance to play for his country in exhibition games. Midfielder Surprise Moriri will miss the tournament after suffering a knee injury. Also sidelined due to injury is defender Lucas Thwala (calf). Striker Mabhuti Khenyeza was dropped from the 30-man preliminary squad after he failed to turn up for a training camp. Santana also dropped Spain-based defender Nasief Morris because of disciplinary reasons. Other players omitted include Belgium-based midfielder Mosilo Modubi, Moeneeb Josephs and Thulasizwe Mbuyane of the Orlando Pirates, Mzuvukile Tom of Golden Arrows and Israel-based midfielder Siyabonga Nkosi of Maccabi Netanya.

ROAD TO FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP 2009

Confederations Cup qualification route: South Africa automatically qualified as the host nation.

TEAM HISTORY

  • FIFA member since: 1992
  • Current FIFA ranking: #72
  • Team nickname: Bafana Bafana
  • All-time caps leaders: Aaron Mokoena (81)
  • All-time leading scorer: Benni McCarthy (31)
  • Number of Previous Confederations Cup Appearances: 1
  • All-time record: 3 games played, 0 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses
  • Goals for: 5
  • Goals against: 7
  • Top scorer: Helman Mkhalele (2 goals)
  • Most appearances: Several players (3 caps)

Confederations Cup History:

  • 1992 — did not qualify
  • 1995 — did not qualify
  • 1997 — first round
  • 1999 — did not qualify
  • 2001 — did not qualify
  • 2003 — did not qualify
  • 2005 — did not qualify

Achievements

  • African Champions: 1996

Legends from the past

Jomo Sono: South Africa's greatest player of all time, Sono made a name for himself at local club Orlando Pirates before hitting it big with the Toronto Blizzard of the North American Soccer League in the early 1980s.

Kaizer Motaung: A standout player in the 1960s and 1970s, Kaizer Motaung was voted rookie of the year in 1968 while playing for the Atlanta Chiefs in the North American Soccer League.