Qualification history
At their FIFA World Cup™ debut in 1998, Bafana Bafana opened with a lopsided defeat to France and went home after two draws left them third in the group. Four years later, it was only the goals-scored tiebreaker that sent Paraguay out of the group at their expense. In 2010, they became the first host country to fail to advance from the group stage, but they thrilled most neutrals with a memorable opening draw against Mexico and a closing win over France. Having only gone out on goal difference in the 2010 finals, they could not build on that four years later, shockingly being eliminated by Ethiopia in the second round on the road to Brazil 2014.

The team
Since winning the 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations at home and qualifying for the next two World Cups, Bafana have failed to join the powerhouses of African football. Their relative struggles have left them more often rebuilding than consolidating, but they are now hoping that a new team - built around players like Dean Furman, Anele Ngcongca and Thulani Serero - will bring back those winning days.

The coach
Shakes Mashaba is in his third stint with South Africa, having taken over from Gordon Igesund in 2014. The former Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows player has led the South African U-17, U-20 and U-23 sides – he coached the side at the 2000 Olympic Football Tournament – and also was in charge of the Swaziland national side for a spell.

The stat
1
The number of points South Africa took from two matches against Ethiopia, who finished two ahead of Bafana in Brazil 2014 group qualifying.

The former stars

Mark Fish, Benni McCarthy, Lucas Radebe