South Africa’s national football team, known as Bafana Bafana, has a relatively short international history. That is because the first team to represent all South Africans only played its first match in 1992 – two years before the country’s first democratic elections. Bafana’s first match was played in Durban, against Cameroon, on 7 July 1992. It proved to be a strong debut against one of Africa’s leading teams, which had made the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup. Doctor Khumalo scored the game’s only goal to give South Africa a 1-0 win.
Two years later Bafana Bafana’s place at the Africa Cup of Nations was assured when the country hosted the tournament. Under coach Clive Barker, the national team rose to the occasion, topping its group after beating Cameroon 3-0 and Angola 1-0 before losing 1-0 to Egypt. In the quarter-finals, Bafana beat Algeria 2-1 to set up a semi-final clash against Ghana, the only team that had won all its games up until that stage of the competition. Putting in one of the finest performances ever by the South African national team, the home side triumphed 3-0 in front of 75 000 spectators at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. Bafana faced Tunisia in the final, after the North Africans had defeated Zambia 4-2 in the semi-finals. In front of a crowd of 80 000, Neil Tovey’s men gave the supporters what they wanted by beating the Tunisians 2-0, with Mark Williams netting both goals.
After years of disappointment, Bafan Bafana qualified for AFCON 2015 after topping group A with 12 points, winning three matches and drawing the other three. The South Africans finished the group unbeaten in all six matches as they conceded just three goals, scoring nine along the way. Bafana Bafana managed to deny defending champions Nigeria a place in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. One of the key players during the qualifiers was the late Senzo Meyiwa who was also the captain of the national team who passed away on the 26th of October 2014.
Bafana Bafana have a tough group in Equatorial Guinea. South Africa have been grouped with Algeria, Senegal and Ghana. If Shakes Mashaba’s men are to progress captain Dean Furman could be a key player. Furman is an astute midfielder who pulls the strings and is as comfortable playing an exquisite pass as he is putting in a tough tackle.
Prediction: Group Stage exit