GROUP A: Can South Africa capture the heart of a nation?

The World Cup is rapidly approaching so we thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at each of the teams competing.

The World Cup is rapidly approaching so we thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at each of the teams competing.

First off are hosts South Africa who have enjoyed some good form in recent times, against far inferior opponents it must be said, but the fever that Bafana Bafana has created is sweeping the Rainbow Nation.

The team will be brilliantly supported by the natives as they showed their rugby-playing Springboks back in 1995 not long after Apartheid had ended.

That World Cup-winning group had just one black player amongst their ranks and this time around, the roles are reversed with defender Matthew Booth being the only white man in Carlos Alberto Parreira’s team but the divide between Afrikaaners and blacks is much more narrow these days and a nation will unite to support their team on the world stage.

Results may not go as they would like but host nations have a habit of doing well in this tournament and stranger things have happened.

South Africa

Playing schedule: Mexico (Johannesburg) June 11; Uruguay (Tshwane/Pretoria) June 16; France (Bloemfontein) June 22

Also known as: Bafana Bafana (The Boys)
Manager: Carlos Alberto Parreira (Brazil)
Captain: Aaron Mokoena
Key players: Steven Pienaar, Aaron Mokoena, Katlego Mphela
Wildcard: Reinelwe Letsholonyane
Player to watch: Itemelung Khune
Most caps: Aaron Mokoena (100)
Top goalscorer: Benni McCarthy (35). Of players in this squad: Siyabonga Nomvethe (16)
FIFA ranking: 83
Qualifying: Qualified as host
Appearance: Third
Best result: Group stage – 1998 & 2002

South Africa squad

Goalkeepers

Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs)
Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates)
Shuaib Walters (Maritzburg United)

Defenders
Siboniso Gaxa (Sundowns)
Anele Ngcongca (Genk)
Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth)
Matthew Booth (Sundowns)
Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United)
Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows)
Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa)
Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates)

Midfielders
Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates)
Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town)
Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs)
MacBeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan)
Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows)
Kagiso Dikgacoi (Fulham)
Steven Pienaar (Everton)
Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)

Forwards

Surprise Moriri (Sundowns)
Bernard Parker (FC Twente)
Katlego Mphela (Sundowns)
Siyabonga Nomvethe (Moroka Swallows)

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