Team Profile: South Africa

As a prelude to next summer's festivities, South Africa hosted the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup this past June, and finished a respectable fourth overall, losing a heartbreaker to Brazil in the semifinals and taking European champions Spain to a penalty shootout in the bronze-medal game.


  • Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira
  • Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Shu-Aib Walters (Maritzburg United)
  • Defenders: Matthew Booth (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongani Khumalo (Supersport United), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa/Israel), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth/England), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk/Belgium), Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows), Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates)
  • Midfielders: Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), K agisho Dikgacoi (Fulham/England), Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Surprise Moriri (Mamelodi Sundowns), Steven Pienaar (Everton/England), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan/Russia)
  • Forwards: Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyabonga Nomvete (Moroka Swallows), Bernard Parker (FC Twente/Netherlands)


Style of play: Retaining possession and passing are the twin pillars of coach Carlos Alberto Parreira's 4-4-2 system. Teko Modise and Steven Pienaar are the key figures - the midfield pair serve as the team's engine room, leading it forward with their probing runs and insightful passes to the strikers. Kagisho Dikgacoi acts as the holding midfielder, allowing Modise and Pienaar to tend to the team's creative responsibilities. Katlego Mphela will lead the line up front, with Bernard Parker playing slightly behind him in withdrawn role. While Mphela will rely on the service provided to him by the midfield, Parker will often drop back to pick up the ball and then run at pace towards the goal.

1st round matches:

  • June 11 vs. Mexico in Johannesburg
  • June 16 vs. Uruguay in Pretoria
  • June 22 vs. France in Bloemfontein

Projected starting lineup (4-4-2): (GK) Itumeleng Khune - (D) Tsepo Masilela, Aaron Mokoena, Matthew Booth, Siboniso Gaxa - (M) Teko Modise, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Steven Pienaar, Siphiwe Tshabalala - (F) Bernard Parker, Katlego Mphela


  • Coaching - Carlos Alberto Parreira is one of the world's most experienced managers, having coached four different teams at five World Cups, and winning it all in 1994 with Brazil. The Brazilian tactician is enjoying his second stint as coach of South Africa, and has the unquestioned respect and faith of his squad. He also has a knack for inspiring his players to play at a higher level when it matters most.
  • Momentum - South Africa enters the tournament riding a 12-game unbeaten streak in international friendlies, and hasn't lost a game since Parreira returned as coach last November.
  • Home field advantage - This is an obvious one. The hosts won't have to make adjustments (to the culture, new surroundings, etc.) like the other teams travelling to South Africa will have to, and they are used to playing at high altitude. Every game for the South Africans will be played before throngs of their fans, giving them a decided advantage in contests that are tight and close.


  • Overall quality - Simply put, South Africa doesn't have too many world-class stars. Instead, it must rely on mediocre players who either ply their trade in the humble South African Premier League, or at modest European clubs. South Africa's talent level and overall depth just can't compare to the majority of teams in this tournament, which makes the decision to leave all-time leading scorer Benni McCarthy off the roster all the more puzzling.
  • Pressure - Local fans are used to their national team underperforming, but now they expect the Bafana Bafana to represent them with pride and honour. As the hosts, there is a world of pressure resting on the shoulders of the South Africans, and it could be too much for them to handle, especially for a team that last competed at the World Cup in 2002.
  • Tough group - FIFA did South Africa no favours with the draw, as Bafana Bafana, currently ranked No. 83 in the world, is grouped with France (No. 9), Uruguay (No. 16) and Mexico (No. 17). All three sides are tough opponents and it's conceivable South Africa could lose all three of those games.

Players to watch:

  • Matthew Booth - At just under six-foot-seven with a gleaming bald head, the defender is conspicuous inside the penalty area and any unstoppable attacking force will have to be at its best to fluster this immovable object.
  • Aaron Mokoena - A stalwart defensive midfielder and South Africa's most-capped player, Mokoena plays in the centre of defence for the national team. He's an experienced veteran who provides the Bafana Bafana with solid leadership.
  • Steven Pienaar- A player cut from the imposing mould of Patrick Vieira, Pienaar is a solid two-way player who combines defensive combativeness with creative invention.

Key injuries/squad omissions: In a major surprise, South Africa's all-time leading scorer, Benni McCarthy missed out on the World Cup host's final 23-man squad by coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. McCarthy has struggled with his fitness this season, and been criticized for being overweight. Other players who did make the cut were midfielders Andile Jali and Franklin Cale, goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez, and defenders Bryce Moon and Innocent Mdledle.

Prognosis: First-round exit. No host nation has ever failed to make it out of the first group stage in the history of the World Cup. That streak will end in 2010. In most cases, the home team can make up for whatever shortcomings it may have on the field by relying on the hometown fans to carry it through. But no amount of fan support will help the Bafana Bafana, ranked No. 83 in the world, overcome the likes of Mexico, Uruguay and France and qualify for the second round.


  • Current FIFA ranking: #83
  • Qualification route: South Africa automatically qualified as hosts.


  • Number of World Cup appearances: 2
  • All-time record: 6 games played, 1 win, 3 draws, 2 losses
  • Goals for: 8
  • Goals against: 11
  • Biggest victory: 1-0 vs. Slovenia in 2002
  • Biggest defeat: 3-0 vs. France in 1998
  • Top scorer: Benni McCarthy, Shaun Bartlett (2 goals)
  • Most appearances: Benni McCarthy, Lucas Radebe, Quinton Fortune (6 matches)
  • Hosted the World Cup: 2010

World Cup track record

  • 1930 to 1962 - Did not enter
  • 1966 to 1990 - Barred by FIFA
  • 1994 - Did not qualify
  • 1998 - First round
  • 2002 - First round
  • 2006 - Did not qualify



  • FIFA member since: 1992
  • Team nickname: Bafana Bafana
  • All-time caps leader: Aaron Mokoena (100)
  • All-time leading scorer: Benni McCarthy (35)

Notable Achievements

African Nations Cup Champions: 1996

Legendary Players

  • Jomo Sono: Nicknamed the Black Prince of South African soccer, Sono was a star player in the North American Soccer League who went on to serve as coach of the South Africa's national team at the 2002 World Cup.
  • 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.