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Bafana Bafana

Updated on May 23, 2011

Bafana Bafana

Bafana Bafana: The early years

Football in South Africa has developed much faster from 1992 despite the fact that football was introduced to South Africa by British soldiers in 19th century. Their first ever international game was with Argentina, on the 9th July, 1906 in Buenos Aires where South Africa National Team won 1-0. For many years South Africa National Team, popularly known as Bafana Bafana which means “The Boys” had been banned by FIFA. This was due to its apartheid policies that segregated people on racial lines. The government in power those apartheid eras put more resources to develop rugby while football was left without resources because it mostly for the black people. With the change of policies to what is referred to as The Rainbow Nation where everybody is equal, football started emerging as one the best game for the new South Africa. This is when Bafana Bafana was allowed to participate in matches by FIFA.

During the apartheid era football was also segmented into racial lines with there were. It was in 1892 when the whites formed an all white football association known as Football Association of South Africa (FASA), in 1903 the Indian formed South African Indian Football Association (SAIFA). The blacks and the coloured formed their associations too, with the blacks forming their South African Bantu Football Association (SABFA) in 1933 and the coloured formed South African Coloured Football Association (SACFA) in 1936. In 1953, South Africa was one of the Africa states that demanded representation in the FIFA executive committee which they won, the other three countries Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt and 3 years later in 1956 the Confederation of African Football (CAF) was born. The South Africa representative; Fred Fell actually was one of the founding member of CAF. One year later the one year old CAF organised an African Cup of Nations in which only three teams participated, the host Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. Despite getting an invitation, South Africa had a problem sending a racially unified team. The policies of apartheid would only allow either an all white team or an all black team and CAF would hear none of that, so South Africa was disqualified from the first ever multi-country football event in Africa organized by the new CAF and held in Sudan at Stade Municipal in Khartoum. Egypt won the first ever CAF title when they first beat the host 2 – 1 and on finals thrashes Ethiopia, 4-0.

Bafana Bafana: Out of sight on international games

 In 1958, South Africa National Team was expelled from CAF however the all white FASA was admitted in FIFA but suspended in 1961 for failing to adhere to non discriminatory rules. However with the coming of a new FIFA president; Sir Stanley Rous, the suspension was lifted in 1963 but imposed again on October 1964 in a FIFA conference held in Tokyo.

Post Apartheid Era

After the June 16, 1976 Soweto Uprising in which 23 youths died, this led to expulsion of South Africa National Team from FIFA. With the demolition apartheid in 1991 and formation of a multi-racial South African Football Association, FIFA re-admitted Bafana Bafana, playing with Cameroon on their first game in 20 years, in which Bafana Bafana won 1-0. In six years later in 1998, they participated in their first ever FIFA World Cup tournament held in France from 10th June to 12th July.


 FRANCE 1998:

In the 1998 World Cup finals, Bafana Bafana was in Group C. It was a tough team because it had host France, Saundi Arabia and Denmark.  Bafana Bafana lost its first group match with host France 3 goals to nil. This match was played at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille on June 12 and attended by  55,077 fans.

At the 34th minute the French through Christophe Jérôme Dugarry scored their first goal. On the 18th of June, Bafana Bafana drew with Danish National Team 1-1 in a match played at Stadium Municipal de Toulouse. The Danes were the first to score on the 13th minute. The Danes goals was scored by Allan Nielsen. On the 52nd minute Benedict Saul "Benni" McCarthy made history as the fist Bafana Bafana player to ever score a FIFA World Cup goal. This match between Bafana Bafana and Denmark National team, attended by 33,300 fans ended 1-1 dimming the hopes of South Africans going to second round.

In the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Bafana Bafana fate was sealed on the 24th of June when they drew 2-2 with Saudi Arabia at Stade Chaban-Delmas stadium in Bordeaux. In a match attended by 31,800 fans, the South African were first to score through a penalty on the 19th minute.  Sami Abdullah Al-Jaber of Saudi arabia scored the first goal for the Saudis through a penalty on the 45th minute. On the 74th minute the Saudis got another penalty which was converted to goal by Yousef Al-Thyniyan.

The Saudis were ahead and it looked like they had won the match, but on the final minute of the extra time Bafana Bafana got a penalty which was converted to a goal by Shaun Bartlett, who still had converted the previous penalty. That was the final goal for the Bafana Bafana in a World Cup match until  their next World Cup of 2002 in Korea and Japan. The 1998 World Cup was won by host France, who became the first host nation to win the World Cup since Argentina in 1978 when they beat Brazil on the finals 3 goals to nil.


The 2002 FIFA World Cup was the 17th edition and was held from 30th May to 30th June. It was the FIFA World Cup to be held in Asia as well as the first and the only one to be hosted by two countries; Korea and Japan. This was the last World Cup where the Golden Rule would be used as it is no longer used by FIFA authorized matches.

In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Bafana Bafana were in group B together with Paraguay, Spain and Slovenia. Their first group match was on the 2nd of June, with Paraguay, in the Busan Asiad Stadium (Asiad Main Stadium) in Busan, Republic of Korea and was attended by 25,186 fans. On the 39th minute, Roque Luis Santa Cruz Cantero scored the first goal of the match for the Paraguay National Team. On the 55th minute Francisco Javier Arce Rolón scored the second goal for the Paraguayans again and it looked like Bafana Bafana was going down. However, 8 minutes later, on the 63rd minute Teboho Patrick Mokoena scored the first goal of the match for Bafana Bafana. By the end of the regular time Paraguay was leading 2 goals to one but of the first minute of the added extra minute the South African got a penalty which Quinton Fortune converted to a goal. This match ended in 2-2 draw.

On the 8th June in a match attended by 47,226 fans in Daegu Stadium or the “Blue Arcin Daegu South Korea Bafana Bafana faced it off with Slovenia. Siyabonga Eugene Nomvethe sealed scored the only goal of the match on the 4th minute for Bafana Bafana, South Africa won 1 to nil on Slovenia. This was South Africa first ever win in a World Cup finals group match.

On the 12th of June, in a match at Daejeon World Cup Stadium or the "Purple Arena stadium in Daejeon in South Korean, Bafana Bafana met with Spain. The first goal for the match was scored by Raúl González Blanco on the 4th minute. Benedict Saul "Benni" McCarthy equilized for the Bafana Bafana on the 31st minute and first minute of the first half injury extra time Gaizka Mendieta Zabala gave the Spaniards another goal.

Come second half and on the 53rd minute Lucas Valeriu Radebe gave Bafana Bafana an equilizer. This status quo was short lived because on the 56th minute, Raúl González Blanco sealed the fate of the South Africans with final goal of the match. Yet again the South African lost their chance of going to the second round to Paraguay on a goal difference.

Bafana Bafana would not see another World Cup till 2010 with their first match with Mexico on the 11th June 2010 in Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium; the Opening Match of the 19th edition of the FIFA World Cup.


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