South African Soccer
Did you know?
South Africa is the first African country to host the FIFA World CupTM since its inception.
South Africa soccer has demonstrated tremendous maturity since 1992 when the national team, fondly called Bafana Bafana (The Boys), came into being. However, the team was given its first rude awakening when it lost all its first games against Cameroon, Zambia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, consequently failing to qualify for the 1994 African Cup of Nations.
In 1996, South Africa hosted the African Nations Cup and proved its mettle as a soccer nation. After being crowned Africa champions in 1996, South Africa went on to qualify for the 1998 FIFA World Cup finals in France. They also made it through to the 1998 Africa Cup of nations where they played Egypt in the final match of the tournament.
Bafana Bafana also managed to reach the 2002 FIFA World cup finals in Korea/Japan where, despite falling out in the first round, managed to convince many people that South Africa soccer can be ranked among the best in the world.
When South Africa won the bid to host the 2010 FIFA World CupTM, top Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Perreira was hooked in to coach Bafana Bafana. Fellow countryman Joel Santana took over as coaches to prepare the team for the tournament. The team did not perform as well as expected but South Africa was internationally congratulated for hosting such a fine World Cup.
South African soccer also boasts the national women's team who have done well internationally. Banyana Banyana (The Girls) have managed to bag the Confederations of Southern African Football Association (Cosafa) tournament trophy in 2002 and 2006.
Moving on to the local league, South Africa soccer boasts one of the most vibrant and competitive leagues on the continent. Some of the top teams in the Premier League include Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns and Supersport United. Among the four, the most successful team on the international scene is Orlando Pirates who, in 1995, managed to win the coveted Champions League. The Soweto derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates makes for one the most spectacular soccer matches in the world.
Some of the local soccer players who have made it big especially in Europe include Lucas ‘Rhoo' Radebe, Benny McCarthy, Steven Pienaar and Aaron Mokoena.