South Africa
© Foto-net

Host Nation

Although a lot has been said about South Africa's form lately, Bafana Bafana have seemingly turned a sharp corner and following back-to-back victories over Ghana and Cameroon, they will approach the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 with zeal.

The side's rehabilitation has been a painful process, but South Africa are picking up the broken pieces and hoping to right the wrongs in their set-up. Having endured some painful moments in their football history recently, including failing to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ and CAF African Cup of Nations Angola 2010, there is a strong cause to convince the rest of the world that despite mounting criticism and flagging confidence in this team's capability, they still have something to offer. Calls have been made for a renaissance, and if that has to happen, it will start at the FIFA Confederations Cup.

South African football went through some of its most profitable years during the mid-1990s, including winning the African Cup of Nations in 1996, but the honeymoon period was soon over. In the previous three editions of the continental finals, they failed to proceed beyond the group stage. However, they will find solace in the fact they received praise for putting up a brave performance at Ghana 2008; a tournament in which very little was expected of them.

Bafana Bafana now boast a crop of emerging players, who are driven by a desire to make the country proud when it hosts the next FIFA World Cup. Under Joel Santana, they have yet to seemingly rediscover themselves, although the Brazilian coach has bravely stated that his detractors must judge him at the 2009 event. Time to experiment is a luxury Santana does not have, with less than 18 months before South Africa 2010.

It is results, and results alone that will help his team approach the FIFA World Cup with confidence at a time when they will be entrusted with qualifying for at least the knockout phase. Write South Africa off at your own peril, as there is plenty of pride to play for at home.

Coach: Joel Santana
Stars: Steven Pienaar, Teko Modise