Although Swaziland have never progressed beyond the first round of qualifying in the FIFA World Cup ™ competition, the tiny southern African country certainly cannot be accused of not trying.
The first time they entered the competition was ahead of USA 1994, when they were drawn into a group with Zaire and Cameroon. Although they failed to advance, they managed to beat Zaire 1-0 at home and hold the Indomitable Lions to a creditable goalless draw at home in the return leg.
Four years later the games against Gabon proved Swaziland's undoing as they lost twice, 1-0 at home and 2-0 away, to be knocked out. In the qualifying campaign for Korea/Japan 2002, Angola proved too strong for the Sihlangu, winning 8-1 on aggregate.
In the African pre-preliminary qualifying rounds for Germany 2006, Swaziland took on Cape Verde under new German coach Werner Bickelhaupt, and even though the teams had drawn the first leg 1-1, they thought they were in with a chance for the return leg. Any hopes of ending their run of first-round FIFA World Cup exits ended though when six of their players were left stranded at the airport in Dakar, Senegal, with passport problems. With only a reserve goalkeeper, the team ran out of steam in the second half and conceded three goals to bow out 4-1 on aggregate.
The dream of reaching the first ever FIFA World Cup to be held on African soil is naturally intense, particularly as the festivities will be taking place in neighbouring South Africa. And the dream has never been this close because Swaziland will go straight into the 2 nd round of qualifying this time. They share their group with Togo and Zambia after the withdrawal of Eritrea.