South Africa national soccer team

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South Africa
South Africa Flor.png
Nickname(s) Bafana Bafana
Association South African Football Association
Confederation CAF (Africa)
Sub-confederation COSAFA (Southern Africa)
Head coach Hugo Broos
Captain Ronwen Williams
Most caps Aaron Mokoena (107)
Top scorer Benni McCarthy (31)
Home stadium FNB Stadium
Cape Town Stadium
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First colours
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Second colours
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Third colours
FIFA ranking
Current 68 Steady2.svg (25 August 2022) [1]
Highest16 (August 1996)
Lowest124 (December 1992)
First international
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 0–1 South Africa  Flag of Orange River Colony.svg
(Buenos Aires, Argentina; 9 July 1906) [2]
Biggest win
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 0–8 South Africa  Flag of South Africa (1928-1994).svg
(Adelaide, Australia; 17 September 1955) [3]
Biggest defeat
Red Ensign of South Africa (1912-1951).svg  South Africa 1–9 England  Flag of England.svg
(Cape Town, South Africa; 17 July 1920)
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 0–5 Brazil  Flag of Brazil.svg
(Johannesburg, South Africa; 5 March 2014) [4]
Flag of France.svg  France 5–0 South Africa  Flag of South Africa.svg
(Villeneuve d'Ascq, France, 29 March 2022)
World Cup
Appearances3 (first in 1998 )
Best resultGroup stage (1998, 2002, 2010)
Africa Cup of Nations
Appearances10 (first in 1996 )
Best resultChampions (1996)
Appearances1 (first in 2005 )
Best resultQuarter-finals (2005)
African Nations Championship
Appearances2 (first in 2011 )
Best resultQuarter-finals (2011)
Appearances18 (first in 1998)
Best resultChampions (2002, 2007, 2008, 2016, 2021)

The South Africa national soccer team represents South Africa in men's international soccer and it is run by the South African Football Association, the governing body for Soccer in South Africa. The team's nickname is Bafana Bafana (The Boys), and South Africa's home ground is FNB Stadium, which is located in Johannesburg. The team's greatest result was winning the Africa Cup of Nations at home in 1996. The team is a member of both FIFA and Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Having played their first match in 1906, they returned to the world stage in 1992, after 16 years of being banned from FIFA, and 40 years of effective suspension due to the apartheid system. [5] South Africa became the first African nation to host the FIFA World Cup when it was granted host status for the 2010 edition. The team's Siphiwe Tshabalala was also the first player to score in this World Cup during the opening game against Mexico, which was followed by an iconic Macarena-style goal celebration from five South African players. [6] [7] Despite defeating France 2–1 in their final game of the Group Stage, they failed to progress from the first round of the tournament, becoming the first host nation in the history of the FIFA World Cup to exit in the group stage. [8] Despite this, the team was ranked 20th out of 32 sides. As of the 23 June 2022, the team is ranked 12th in Africa (CAF) and has moved one spot up in the world (FIFA) and is currently in the 68th position.



Soccer first arrived in South Africa through colonialism in the late nineteenth century, as the game was popular among British soldiers. [9] From the earliest days of the sport in South Africa until the end of apartheid, organised soccer was affected by the country's system of racial segregation. The all-white Football Association of South Africa (FASA) was formed in 1892, while the South African Indian Football Association (SAIFA), the South African Bantu Football Association (SABFA) and the South African Coloured Football Association (SACFA) were founded in 1903, 1933 and 1936 respectively.

The South African team that toured South America in 1906. They played 12 matches with only one defeat. South african fa 1906.jpg
The South African team that toured South America in 1906. They played 12 matches with only one defeat.

In 1903 the SAFA re-affiliated with the English Football Association after the Second Boer War between the British Empire and the Boer state. There was a plan to play a tournament held in Argentina, with South Africa and Fulham as guest teams, but it was not carried out. Nevertheless, South Africa traveled to South America in 1906 to play a series of friendly matches there. [10]

South Africa played a total of 12 matches in South America, winning 11 with 60 goals scored and only 7 conceded. Some of the rivals were Belgrano A.C., Argentina national team, a Liga Rosarina combined, Estudiantes (BA) and Quilmes. [11] The only team that could beat South Africa was the Argentine Alumni by 1–0 at Sociedad Sportiva stadium of Buenos Aires, on 24 June, although the South Africans would take revenge on 22 July, defeating the Alumni by 2–0. [12]

The players were exclusively white, civil servants, government employees, bankers and civil engineers. Seven of the 15 players were born in South Africa and 8 originated from England and Scotland. [10]

South Africa was one of four African nations to attend FIFA's 1953 congress, at which the four demanded, and won, representation on the FIFA executive committee. [13] Thus the four nations (South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan) founded the Confederation of African Football in 1956, [13] and the South African representative, Fred Fell, sat at the first meeting as a founding member. It soon became clear however that South Africa's constitution prohibited racially mixed teams from competitive sport, and so they could only send either an all-black side or an all-white side to the planned 1957 African Cup of Nations. This was unacceptable to the other members of the Confederation, and South Africa was disqualified from the competition, however, some sources say that they withdrew voluntarily. [14]

At the second CAF conference in 1958, South Africa were formally expelled from CAF. The all-white FASA were admitted to FIFA in the same year, but in August 1960 it was given an ultimatum of one year to fall in line with the non-discriminatory regulations of FIFA. On 26 September 1961 at the annual FIFA conference, the South African association was formally suspended from FIFA. Sir Stanley Rous, president of The Football Association of England and a champion of South Africa's FIFA membership, was elected FIFA President a few days later. Rous was adamant that sport, and FIFA in particular, should not embroil itself in political matters and against fierce opposition, he continued to resist attempts to expel South Africa from FIFA. The suspension was lifted in January 1963 after a visit to South Africa by Rous in order to investigate the state of soccer in the country.

Rous declared that if the suspension were not lifted, soccer there would be discontinued, possibly to the point of no recovery. The next annual conference of FIFA in October 1964 took place in Tokyo and was attended by a larger contingent of representatives from African and Asian associations and here the suspension of South Africa's membership was re-imposed. In 1976, after the Soweto uprising, they were formally expelled from FIFA.

In 1991, when the apartheid system was beginning to be demolished, a new multi-racial South African Football Association was formed, and admitted to FIFA – and thus finally allowing South Africa to enter the qualifying stages for subsequent World Cups. [15]

1992–1994: Readmission

After spending nearly two decades in international isolation, the South African national team played its first game on 7 July 1992, beating Cameroon 1–0 at Kings Park in Durban.

The team entered the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and was placed in Group 5, along with Mauritius, Zambia and Zimbabwe. They won one game, away to Mauritius, and drew with Mauritius and Zimbabwe at home. The team finished third in the group and failed to qualify.

For the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifiers South Africa was placed in Group D, along with Congo, Libya and Nigeria. Libya withdrew from the qualifiers. South Africa beat Congo home and away. They drew with Nigeria at home and lost away. South Africa finished second in the group, and failed to qualify for the next stage of the qualifiers.

1996–1998: Rise

In 1996, a mere 5 years after readmission, South Africa achieved their finest moment when they hosted (and won) the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, in the process reaching the lofty heights of 16th in the FIFA rankings. The shock firing of Cup of Nations winning coach Clive Barker did little to slow momentum as they followed their 1996 success with a second-place finish at the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations after Egypt under Jomo Sono. The team had earned their first appearance at the FIFA World Cup, qualifying for France '98. Under head coach Philippe Troussier, South Africa suffered a heavy 3–0 defeat to hosts France in their World Cup debut, but played credibly against other group opponents Denmark and Asian juggernauts Saudi Arabia, earning 1–1 and 2–2 draws respectively on their way to an early exit.

2000–2002: Peak and coaching instability

Following their successful 1996 and 1998 Africa Cup of Nations' campaigns and their World Cup debut in 1998, South Africa were seen as a growing power on the continent. Under the coaching of the newly hired Trott Moloto they would start the decade off strongly, finishing third in the 2000 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, but as was increasingly symptomatic of soccer in South Africa at the national level, yet another coaching change was made. Portuguese Carlos Queiroz was hired as the man to take South Africa to the 2002 FIFA World Cup. South Africa qualified for the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations and were eliminated in the quarter-finals against hosts Mali. In the run-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup, for which South Africa had easily qualified as winners of Group E, Queiroz left his post as head coach amid increasing behind-the-scenes political wrangling.

Former legend Jomo Sono was brought back in a caretaker capacity to lead South Africa in Korea/Japan. Placed in Group B along with Spain, Paraguay and debutants Slovenia at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, South Africa had high hopes of progressing to the knockout phase of the tournament. After earning a 2–2 draw against Paraguay in their opening game with a last-gasp penalty from Quinton Fortune and following it up with their first-ever victory at the finals with a 1–0 win over Slovenia, South Africa headed into their final game against Spain second in the group and 3 points clear of Paraguay and Slovenia. In arguably the game of the group, in which 5 goals were scored inside the hour, South Africa twice came from a goal down in an agonising 3–2 defeat to the Spanish. In the other game, which kicked off at the same time as the South Africa-Spain game, Paraguay found themselves beating Slovenia 2–1, but the result was not enough for Paraguay to surpass South Africa in the standings as South Africa's goal difference of zero was superior to Paraguay's minus one. But South African hearts would be broken. With 84 minutes gone in the Slovenia-Paraguay game Nelson Cuevas bagged a vital third goal for Paraguay, giving Paraguay a 3–1 victory over Slovenia. The win left both Paraguay and South Africa level on 4 points with the late Cuevas strike against Slovenia lifting Paraguay's goal difference to zero, level with South Africa's. The deciding factor moved onto a third tiebreaker; goals scored, and as Paraguay had scored six goals to South Africa's five, they progressed to the Round of 16 at the expense of South Africa. What made the early exit all the more heartbreaking was that South Africa was the only team in the group that managed to hold its own against runaway group winners Spain, as both Slovenia and Paraguay were comfortably cast aside 3–1 by the Spanish.

This era (1996–2002) of rising soccer prowess saw South Africa blessed with fine footballers such as record-setting goalscorers Benni McCarthy & Shaun Bartlett, defensive hardmen and inspirational captains Lucas Radebe & Neil Tovey, creative maestros John Moshoeu & Doctor Khumalo and defensive stalwart Mark Fish.

2002–2006: Decline and coaching roundabout

In the period following the 2002 World Cup and leading up to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, South Africa would go through 4 head coaches; Ephraim Mashaba (2002–2004), April Phumo (2004), Stuart Baxter (2004–2005), Ted Dumitru (2005–2006) and caretaker Pitso Mosimane (2006). Neither coach was able to match the successes seen in the period 1996–2002 as South Africa failed to progress beyond the group stages in either the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations or 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, failing to register a single goal in the latter. Above all though, South Africa failed to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. After being placed in Group 2 for qualifying, South Africa were beaten to Germany by Ghana. Following poor performances in both the 2004 and 2006 Africa Cup of Nations, rumours circulated that SAFA had been attempting to attract a high-profile international manager to coach Bafana Bafana and that former England boss Sven-Göran Eriksson had been targeted. This rumour however has been denied.

2007–2010: Hosting the World Cup

South Africa vs Uruguay at the 2010 FIFA World Cup FIFA World Cup 2010 South Africa Uruguay.jpg
South Africa vs Uruguay at the 2010 FIFA World Cup

By failing to register a single goal at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations and by missing out on Germany 2006, local supporters had become increasingly unhappy with the decline in the performance of the national team. In light of these poor performances, it was decided that the hiring of a more experienced manager was essential. Former World Cup-winner and Brazilian national team coach Carlos Alberto Parreira was approached for the job and he accepted. He signed a R100 million contract covering four years. His term as manager started 1 January 2007 targeting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which South Africa had been awarded the right to host, becoming the first African nation to ever host association football's global showpiece.

Under Parreira, with his rich history of success at the international level, South Africa was expected to improve, but early signs were not good as they would exit the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations at the first hurdle once again. To make matters worse, Parreira stood down as coach in April 2008 due to family reasons. Joel Santana was hand-picked by Parreira to succeed him and he was signed to coach the team until 2010. [16] Under Santana South Africa would slide into its darkest period in international soccer since readmission. Failing to even qualify for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations with soccer characterised by a complete lack of creativity and little goal-scoring threat, South Africa tumbled down the FIFA rankings and was at one point not even ranked among Africa's top-10 nations. Santana was fired in 2009 and Parreira would return in time for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup – also hosted by South Africa – and South Africa would see an improvement in performance, holding its own against eventual world champions Spain and perennial powerhouse Brazil, the latter requiring an 88th-minute goal to overcome South Africa in the semi-finals. South Africa would ultimately finish 4th, following a thrilling 3–2 loss to the Spanish in the 3rd/4th Place Playoff.

A string of victories, albeit against marginal opposition, in the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup seemed to instill a sense of confidence in the team as well as the nation. For the 2010 World Cup, the first in Africa, South Africa was placed in Group A, along with Mexico, surprise package and eventual semi-finalists Uruguay and former world champions France. South Africa played the first game, which opened the World Cup 2010 tournament with a 1–1 draw against Mexico after taking the lead through a wonderful long-range Siphiwe Tshabalala strike. Katlego Mphela would hit the post late into the game as South Africa, buoyed by a frenzied home crowd, so very nearly opened the tournament with a win. A heavy 3–0 defeat in the second group game against Uruguay and a Mexican win over France left South Africa with a mountain to climb in order to progress beyond the group stage. For the deciding match against France, Parreira would discard his previous tactics of a defensive-minded five-man midfield and a lone forward in favour of a more attacking formation utilising two forwards, as up until the France game South Africa had focused more on not losing than they did on trying to win, but the heavy defeat against Uruguay coupled with Mexico's victory over France had now left them with a goal difference of negative three that needed to be overcome in order for them to progress. South Africa would also require a favour from Uruguay, needing the Uruguayans to inflict a sizeable defeat on Mexico to aid their chances of progress. The change in tactics worked as South Africa gained the upper hand over the French, attacking at will. At the half, South Africa had a 2–0 lead thanks to goals from Bongani Khumalo & Katlego Mphela while Uruguay were beating Mexico 1–0 in the other group game. As it stood, South Africa needed at least one more goal against France while Uruguay needed to double their lead against Mexico. Sadly, it was not to be as while South Africa did secure a historic victory over France, they failed to score again and conceded a late goal for a 2–1 victory while the Uruguayans had failed to add to their lead, as they ran out 1–0 victors over Mexico. For the second World Cup in a row, South Africa finished level on points with second place but were eliminated, this time on goal difference while it had been on goals scored in 2002. Elimination in the group stage made South Africa the first host to fail to progress beyond the first round of a World Cup.

South Africa-France starting lineups 2010-06-22 FRA-RSA 2010-06-22.svg
South Africa-France starting lineups 2010-06-22
1Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay 321040+47Advance to knockout stage
2Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 311132+14
3Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa (H)31113524
4Flag of France (lighter variant).svg  France 30121431
Source: FIFA
Rules for classification: Tie-breaking criteria
(H) Host

Following the conclusion of the World Cup and the expiration of his contract, Carlos Alberto Parreira announced his retirement from coaching. As part of his contract, Parreira had also drawn up a plan of recommendations extending as far as soccer development at grassroots level that SAFA was encouraged to review in the hopes of reviving the fortunes of the national soccer team. Pitso Mosimane, who had been Parreira's assistant, was selected as the new head coach with Parreira's blessings.

2012–2014: Continued struggles

South Africa failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations finals after the rules were misread. [17] They ultimately played for and achieved a draw at home in Nelspruit against Sierra Leone in a game they needed to win, when news about Niger trailing in Egypt was received, leading to the qualification of Niger at their expense, and also at Sierra Leone's. They then celebrated at the end as if they had qualified, making it the second time they would be so embarrassed in 4 years after qualifying as a lucky 3rd and last best runners-up for the 2008 edition, with Zambia catapulting over South Africa as Group winners after a 3–1 win in Cape Town – and thereby gaining an automatic qualifying ticket on the head-to-head record with the South Africans erroneously thinking goal difference would be the primary tie-breaker. [18]

The SABC also announced that the team had qualified and the SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani then congratulated the team on TV before realisation dawned. [19] SAFA said they would appeal to CAF but the appeal was later withdrawn. [20] [21]

South Africa continued to disappoint into 2012, opening the year with a lacklustre 0–0 draw away to 2012 Africa Cup of Nations co-hosts Equatorial Guinea. This would be the start of a run that would see Bafana Bafana rack up 6 successive draws to start the year. The run of draws included 1–1, 0–0 and 1–1 draws at home to African champions Zambia, Ghana and Senegal respectively in International Friendlies. Following a 1–1 draw at home to Ethiopia in a 2014 World Cup qualifier, head coach Pitso Mosimane was fired. [22] The draw increased South Africa's streak to 7 games without a win. Mosimane was replaced as head coach by Steve Komphela on an interim basis while SAFA interviewed potential candidates to fill the post on a permanent basis.

In his first game in charge as interim head coach, Komphela oversaw yet another uninspired performance in South Africa's second World Cup qualifier against Botswana as they drew yet again, extending their winless run to 8 games. Bafana Bafana finally tasted victory when they defeated Gabon 3–0 at home in a friendly, ending their winless streak.

Komphela, along with Gordon Igesund, Gavin Hunt, Neil Tovey and Ephraim Shakes Mashaba had been shortlisted as one of the candidates to be the next head coach of South Africa, [23] with Komphela and Igesund emerging as the front-runners. [24] On 30 June 2012, Gordon Igesund was appointed as the new head coach. [25]

Following the crisis in Libya throughout 2011, CAF made the decision to move the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations from Libya – who were the original hosts – to South Africa on the grounds of safety and security. Libya was then given the right to host the 2017 edition of the tournament, which was originally awarded to South Africa. [26] As hosts of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, South Africa would automatically qualify for the competition.

South Africa, as hosts, were seeded and drawn in Group A along with Angola, Morocco and tournament debutants Cape Verde. [27]

South Africa kicked the tournament off on 19 January against debutants Cape Verde at a wet National Stadium. South Africa made use of a defensive formation as coach Gordon Igesund deployed two deep midfielders in Kagisho Dikgacoi and Reneilwe Letsholonyane and along with the poor weather conditions delivered an uninspired performance resulting in a 0–0 draw. In the hosts' second group game against Angola, coach Igesund dropped his midfield pairing of Dikgacoi and Letsholonyane and opted for a new midfield pairing of the defensive minded Dean Furman and the more attacking May Mahlangu. The result was a far more confident display as Dean Furman took control of the midfield – something that was lacking in the first game – and delivered a man of the match performance. South Africa ran out winners with goals from Siyabonga Sangweni and Lehlohonolo Majoro setting up a 2–0 victory. Heading into the final group game against Morocco South Africa only had to avoid defeat in order to progress to the knockout stages while Morocco needed a win to progress. South Africa put in a woeful first-half performance that saw them 1–0 down at halftime and struggling with the Moroccans' direct approach. It was only thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who pulled off a string of stunning saves, that South Africa were not further behind. An improved second half saw South Africa fight back with an equaliser from May Mahlangu, but South Africa continued to look vulnerable against Morocco's direct approach and subsequently fell behind again in the 81st minute. But typical of their improved tenacity in the second half South Africa swiftly responded through a Siyabonga Sangweni equaliser in the 86th minute. South Africa hung on to the draw, with the result enough to see them win group A and progress to the quarterfinals. Sangweni's late equaliser would prove vital as an injury time winner by Cape Verde in their final game against Angola would have seen Morocco and Cape Verde progress at the expense of South Africa, but as it was South Africa went through along with Cape Verde, who enjoyed a stunning debut in Africa's showpiece tournament.

South Africa were drawn against Group B runners-up Mali in the quarterfinals. South Africa delivered a stunning first-half performance, playing at a high tempo to negate the Malians' superior physical presence. Unable to keep up with the pace of the game, Mali were overwhelmed as South Africa carved out chance after chance, finally making the breakthrough in the 31st minute as Thuso Phala drove into the box and fired a low cross across the goalmouth which an open Tokelo Rantie pounced on. South Africa headed into the break 1–0 up. However, in the second half, led by veteran midfielder and captain Seydou Keita, the Malians began to impose themselves and equalised in the 58th minute amid a momentary defensive collapse as the South African defense allowed captain Keita to head home an unchallenged cross. From that point on it was Mali that controlled the game. Neither side was able to secure a winner and the game headed into extra time. After another goalless 30 minutes, the game moved to penalties. Siphiwe Tshabalala took the first penalty and gave South Africa the lead with a stunningly placed shot into the top left corner. Cheick Diabaté would swiftly respond. Then South Africa's tournament proceeded to unravel. Dean Furman was next up for South Africa but he saw his weak shot easily saved by goalkeeper Soumbeïla Diakité. Adama Tamboura would score Mali's second penalty handing them the advantage. In an almost carbon copy of Furman's penalty, May Mahlangu's penalty was also easily saved low to the left by goalkeeper Diakité. Mahamane Traoré confidently dispatched Mali's third penalty, handing them a comfortable 3–1 cushion. Lehlohonolo Majoro was next up for South Africa but the pressure was too much as he fired a wild shot high and to the right of the goal. With the miss, South Africa were eliminated from the tournament 3–1 on penalties.

After a poor 2012 in which South Africa had performed poorly and had steadily slid down FIFA's rankings, their performance in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations was a marked improvement. Although coach Gordon Igesund had been handed the almost impossible task of a semifinal berth as a target in his contract, SAFA came out and said the signs of improvement were sufficient enough for Igesund's job to remain safe.

South Africa received a First Round bye when the qualifying process for the 2014 FIFA World Cup got underway on 30 July 2011. For the Second Round of the qualifying process, South Africa was placed in Pot 1 as a top-seeded nation for the draw from where they were drawn into Group A, along with neighbors Botswana, the Central African Republic and Ethiopia. South Africa opened their qualifying campaign with a dismal performance, struggling to overcome a one-goal deficit in a 1–1 home draw with Ethiopia, a nation ranked nearly 70 places below them. This result, coupled with the less than an inspiring string of results that had seen South Africa winless in the past 6 outings that preceded it, resulted in the sacking of head coach Pitso Mosimane. Under interim head coach Steve Khompela, South Africa played out to yet another uninspiring 1–1 draw, this time away to Botswana.

Following on from a positive display in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, Gordon Igesund guided South Africa to their first victory in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers as they beat the Central African Republic 2–0 in Cape Town. South Africa continued their push for a place at the World Cup with a 3–0 win over the Central African Republic on 8 June. South Africa endured a difficult build-up to the game as they were only able to practice once before the game due to a delayed connecting flight, but they performed admirably against their physical opponents on a bumpy pitch. The win was South Africa's first away win in a World Cup qualifier since 2005. Ethiopia also won their match away to Botswana on the same day, maintaining their 2-point lead over South Africa.

South Africa and Ethiopia met in a potential group decider in Addis Ababa on 16 June, with the Ethiopians going undefeated at home in 12 games. South Africa were under pressure from the kick-off and as early as the 3rd-minute goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was forced into a stunning save. South Africa would recover to take a 1–0 lead through a stunning left-footed half volley from Bernard Parker in the 33rd minute. The lead was short-lived as Ethiopia equalised in the 44th minute following a defensive lapse by South Africa when they failed to deal with a loose ball on the edge of the box. Ethiopia would secure the win thanks to a stunning own goal by Bernard Parker in the 70th minute as he headed the ball into his own net from a free-kick. The 2–1 defeat ended South Africa's qualification hopes and assured Ethiopia passage to the third and final round of qualifying. However, following the match it emerged that Ethiopia were under investigation for fielding an ineligible player during their 2–1 win over Botswana and that they could face losing the 3 points and have the result reversed to a 3–0 defeat, as in line with FIFA sanctions. This would give South Africa an outside chance of qualifying for Brazil. Ethiopia later admitted to the error. [28] On Tuesday, 19 June, it was reported in the South African press that Ethiopia had again fielded the same player against South Africa with the player still to serve his one-match ban and it might be possible that Ethiopia could face losing another 3 points to South Africa. Should this happen, South Africa would then qualify for the next round at the expense of Ethiopia. [29]

South Africa failed to qualify. These were the final standings:

TeamPldWDLGFGAGDPts Flag of Ethiopia.svg Flag of South Africa.svg Flag of Botswana.svg Flag of the Central African Republic.svg
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia 641186+213 2–1 1–0 2–0
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 6321125+711 1–1 4–1 2–0
Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana 621381027 3–0 [lower-alpha 1] 1–1 3–2
Flag of the Central African Republic.svg  Central African Republic 610551273 1–2 0–3 2–0
Source: [ citation needed ]
  1. Awarded


South Africa's first match under new coach, Ephraim Mashaba was a Group A qualifying match for AFCON 2015, played at Al-Merrikh Stadium against Sudan on 5 September 2014. South Africa won the match 3–0 with two goals from Sibusiso Vilakazi in the 55th and 61st minutes and a goal from Bongani Ndulula in the 78th minute. [30] South Africa's second match in the AFCON qualifiers was a home match at Cape Town Stadium against Nigeria on 10 September. South Africa held off the defending AFCON champions for a 0–0 draw. [31] Following these two matches, Bafana Bafana moved up two places to 67th in the FIFA world ranking. [32]

South Africa then took on Congo at the Stade Municipal de Pointe-Noire on 11 October. The game was won 2–0 with goals from Bongani Ndulula and Tokelo Rantie in the second half. This victory brought South Africa to the top of Group A. [33] Next was the return match in Polokwane's Peter Mokaba Stadium. The game ended in a 0–0 stalemate which kept South Africa at the top of the group. [34] Following these two matches, South Africa climbed ten places in the FIFA rankings to no. 57. [35]

Next up was the second match against Sudan on 15 November which was won 2–1, with goals from Thulani Serero in the 37th minute, and Tokelo Rantie in the 54th minute. The game was originally scheduled to be played at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, but it was moved to the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban in honour of captain and goalkeeper, Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed two weeks prior to the game. Coach Ephraim Mashaba said the win was for the fallen hero, who had not conceded a goal in the four qualifiers he had played. The result sealed qualification for South Africa, with an away game versus Nigeria to spare. It was the first time since 2008 that Bafana managed to qualify for the tournament (in 2013 they qualified as hosts after Libya exchanged their rights for security reasons). [36] [37]

The last game of the qualifiers was on 19 November at the Akwa Ibom Stadium in Uyo, Nigeria. It ended 2–2, therefore eliminating Nigeria and denying them the chance to defend their crown at 2015 AFCON. The coach Ephraim Mashaba had earlier said that South Africa would not do Nigeria any favours. It showed in the way that the South Africans approached the match. Tokelo Rantie missed a sitter in the fourth minute when he fluffed his chance over the bar, but he made amends when he opened the scoring in the 42nd minute after a neat pass from Dean Furman. It looked as if South Africa would get their first competitive win over Nigeria when Rantie doubled his and his country's tally in the 48th minute. But it wasn't to be, as they failed to hold on for a historic win. Nigeria came back to draw 2–2 but it wasn't enough to secure Nigeria's qualification as Congo beat Sudan 1–0 to book their place at the tournament.

Under Mashaba, South Africa failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. This, in addition to the various controversies, disparaging remarks that Mashaba allegedly made about SAFA top officials, his supposedly arrogant nature and his ill-treatment of overseas-based stars, led to his suspension after leading South Africa to a 2−1 victory over Senegal in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

2017–present: promising generation

After being unable to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup, South Africa had undergone a systematic reformation and transformation to regain its status as an African soccer power. The reformation of South African soccer was aided by the successful rise of its under-age soccer, including the U-17, U-20 and U-23 teams that all achieved some African successes and participated in World tournaments at their levels.

South Africa qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finishing second and undefeated, with a shock 2–0 away win over Nigeria. [38] South Africa participated in the tournament grouped with Morocco, Ivory Coast and Namibia, and narrowly qualified to the knockout stage with only a single 1–0 win over Namibia and had to face host Egypt (which had Mohamed Salah), winners of AFCON seven times and had just qualified for Russia 2018 World Cup. [39] The South Africans then pulled out the biggest upset in the tournament, knocking Egypt out in the round of 16 stage with a 1–0 win in Cairo. [40] Then, South Africa once again faced Nigeria in the quarter-finals, but there was no further upset as Nigeria prevailed 2–1, but it was regarded as South Africa's best performance in the 2010s. [41]

Under Molefi Ntseki, South Africa failed to qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Molefi Ntseki was promptly sacked and the Hugo Broos was announced as his replacement.

Broos immediately set out to restructure the national team and the veteran players (Including captain Thulani Hlatshwayo) of the team were replaced with an exciting and young crop of players. Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams was named as the captain with Percy Tau being named as the vice-captain.

Broos' efforts led South Africa to put in a credible performance in the second round of African qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, where South Africa were placed in a group with Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia. South Africa got off to a promising start, beating a weakened Ghana side 1—0 at home on Matchday 2 and going to the top of the group. South Africa remained at the top of the group until the final matchday when they lost 0—1 away to Ghana after a dubious penalty was awarded to Ghana in the first half. South Africa ultimately finished second to Ghana on goals scored, narrowly missing out on qualification for the final 10-team playoff round to qualify for the World Cup.

Team image


"Bafana Bafana" is a nickname given to the national side by its fans. It is Zulu and translates literally as "the boys, the boys". Its actual meaning in Nguni language is, "Go boys! Go boys!", though others take the double use of "Bafana" to mean "all of the boys"---the team and management, as well as the spectators; togetherness, as in the African concept of ubuntu.

In July 1992, at Kings Park stadium in Durban, fans shouted "Bafana Bafana" [GO BOYS GO BOYS] when South Africa was on the verge of beating Cameroon and after the game. A group of three journalists, from South Africa newspaper The Sowetan , then began to use the name in print when referring to the team. The name was initially used only informally, as SAFA felt that it was not commercially viable, and that it was degrading to refer to a team of men as boys. [42]

Standton Woodrush Ltd applied to trademark the name in 1993. The trademark was granted but was for clothing only. In 1994, the team's technical sponsor at the time, Kappa, applied for the trademarks "Bafana" and "Bafana Bafana" in class 25. These were granted and subsequently passed on to SAFA. In 1997, SAFA filed for the trademark "Bafana Bafana" for all goods and services, in all classes.

SAFA then applied to have Standton Woodrush Ltd removed from the trademarks register, on the grounds that SAFA was the rightful owner of the name. The case was dismissed on the ground that SAFA was not an interested person within the meaning of this term as used in the Trade Marks Act No. 94 of 1993, which provides that only an interested party has legal standing to seek relief.

SAFA made another application to gain ownership of the trademark, with the second application going to the Appeal Court. The court again found that SAFA did not have the necessary grounds for ownership of the name in all classes. The court held that an intention to use a mark does not create a preference for registration, and that the proprietor of a trademark need not be its originator.

In 2011 SAFA paid R5 million to Standton Woodrush Ltd for rights to the name "Bafana Bafana", in class 25 and all other classes. [43]

Home stadium

First game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa vs Mexico at Soccer City First game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa vs Mexico4.jpg
First game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa vs Mexico at Soccer City

The South Africa national soccer team does not use a single stadium as its home stadium for matches. Instead, they use a variety of stadiums throughout South Africa to host matches.

The largest venue used is the 94,700-seater Soccer City in Soweto, outside Johannesburg. Other often used venues include the Atteridgeville Super Stadium, outside Pretoria, the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, outside Rustenburg, the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein and Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

Matches have also been hosted at Ellis Park and Johannesburg Stadium in Johannesburg, Kings Park in Durban, Olympia Park in Rustenburg, Cape Town Stadium and Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and the EPRU Stadium in Port Elizabeth, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Griqua Park in Kimberley, Jan Smuts Stadium and Buffalo City Stadium in East London, Odi Stadium in Mabopane, Mmabatho Stadium in Mafikeng, Atlantic Stadium in Witbank and Olen Park in Potchefstroom.

The team has also hosted matches outside of South Africa. In preparation for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, the team hosted a friendly in Baiersbronn, Germany. As a warm-up for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the team hosted a friendly at Mong Kok Stadium in Hong Kong. In 2006 the team hosted a Nelson Mandela Challenge match at Griffin Park, in London, England. During their preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the team hosted two matches in Germany. The matches were played at the BRITA-Arena in Wiesbaden and the Stadion am Bieberer Berg in Offenbach am Main.

Media coverage

The South African Football Association owns the rights to national team matches played in South Africa. SAFA currently has a contract with the South African Broadcasting Corporation, to broadcast these matches. It is up to the SABC to procure the rights to matches played outside of the country.

The SABC usually shows most national team games, though they have often had problems with broadcasting weekday matches. They have previously used delayed live footage, [44] and sometimes not shown matches. [45]

Most large tournaments in which the team play, such as the FIFA World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations, have separate broadcast rights. SuperSport purchase the pay TV rights to these tournaments, thus during these tournaments, they also show South African matches. The SABC usually holds the free to air rights to these tournaments, with the notable exception being the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Those matches were shown by [46]


When the team returned to international soccer in 1992, their kit was supplied by an Italian clothing company, Kappa. The team wore Kappa kits up to and during the 1998 FIFA World Cup. [47]

Following the 1998 World Cup, the kits for all South African national soccer teams were supplied by German sports apparel company Adidas. The sponsorship deal is believed to be worth Rs 14 million per year. [48] Their contract with the South African Football Association ran until the end of 2010.

On 7 June 2011, SAFA announced Puma as its new technical sponsor and unveiled Bafana Bafana's new kit. [49] [50]

In October 2013, ABSA announced its resignation as a sponsor of SAFA and the South African national team as of the end of their contract in December 2013. This was followed a week later by the announcement from Puma, that they too would step down as technical sponsors of Bafana Bafana. [51]

From March 2014 until June 2020, the official kit provider was the American sporting apparel company Nike from the international friendly match against Brazil.

Since June 2020, the official kit provider has been French sporting apparel company Le Coq Sportif. [52]

The team now has one main sponsor, Castle Lager, a brand owned by South African Breweries. Smaller sponsors and suppliers include Energade and Tsogo Sun Hotels. [53]

In 2022, Banxso became the official online trading partner for the team. [54]

Kit providerPeriod
Flag of Italy.svg Kappa 1992–1998
Flag of Germany.svg Adidas 1998–2010
Flag of Germany.svg Puma 2011–2013
Flag of the United States.svg Nike 2014–2020
Flag of France.svg Le Coq Sportif 2020–present

Results and fixtures

The following matches were played in the last 12 months or are scheduled to be played.


3 September 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Zimbabwe  Flag of Zimbabwe.svg0–0Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Harare, Zimbabwe
15:00  UTC+2 Report Stadium: National Sports Stadium
Referee: Mahmoud El Banna (Egypt)
6 September 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification South Africa  Flag of South Africa.svg1–0Flag of Ghana.svg  Ghana Johannesburg, South Africa
18:00  UTC+2 Hlongwane Soccerball shade.svg83' Report Stadium: FNB Stadium
Referee: Derrick Kasokota Kafuli (Zambia)
9 October 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Ethiopia  Flag of Ethiopia.svg1–3Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Bahir Dar, Ethiopia
16:00  UTC+3
Stadium: Bahir Dar Stadium
Referee: Shuhoub Abdulbasit (Libya)
12 October 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification South Africa  Flag of South Africa.svg1–0Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia Johannesburg, South Africa
18:00  UTC+2
Report Stadium: FNB Stadium
Referee: Georges Gatogato (Burundi)
11 November 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification South Africa  Flag of South Africa.svg1–0Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe Johannesburg
21:00  UTC+2
Report Stadium: FNB Stadium
Referee: Sadok Selmi (Tunisia)
14 November 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification Ghana  Flag of Ghana.svg1–0Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Cape Coast
21:00  UTC±0
Report Stadium: Cape Coast Sports Stadium
Referee: Maguette N'Diaye (Senegal)


29 March Friendly France  Flag of France.svg5–0Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Lille, France
Report Stadium: Stade Pierre-Mauroy
Referee: Sandro Schärer (Switzerland)
13 June 2023 AFCON qualification South Africa  Flag of South Africa.svgCancelledFlag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe Johannesburg, South Africa
Stadium: FNB Stadium
17 July COSAFA Plate F South Africa  Flag of South Africa.svg2–1Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana Durban, South Africa
Stadium: Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium
24 September Friendly South Africa  Flag of South Africa.svg4–0Flag of Sierra Leone.svg  Sierra Leone Soweto, South Africa
Report Stadium: FNB Stadium
September 2023 AFCON qualification South Africa  Flag of South Africa.svgvFlag of Liberia.svg  Liberia South Africa
--:--  UTC+2 Report
15 November Friendly Burkina Faso  Flag of Burkina Faso.svgvFlag of South Africa.svg  South Africa TBD, Japan
Stadium: TBD


Coaching staff

Technical Director Flag of South Africa.svg Walter Steenbok
Team Manager Flag of South Africa.svg Vincent Tseka
Head of Delegation Flag of South Africa.svg Aubrey Baartman
Head Coach Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Hugo Broos
Assistant Coach Flag of North Macedonia.svg Cedomir Janevski
Flag of South Africa.svg Helman Mkhalele
Goalkeeper Coach Flag of South Africa.svg Grant Johnson
Chief Medical Officer Flag of South Africa.svg Dr. Thulani Ngwenya
Team Doctor Flag of South Africa.svg Dr. Tshepo Molopi
Massage Therapist Flag of South Africa.svg Renadani Manuku
Physiotherapist Flag of South Africa.svg Nhlanhla Ndlovu
Fitness Trainer Flag of South Africa.svg Thabo Maloka
Masseur Flag of South Africa.svg Thabo Sekwati
Media Officer Flag of South Africa.svg Romy Titus
Video Analyst Flag of South Africa.svg Mark Davy
Security Officer Flag of South Africa.svg Mduduzi Mbatha
Kit Manager Flag of South Africa.svg Tumelo Kujane

Source: [ citation needed ]

Coaching history

Caretaker managers are listed in italics.


Current squad

The following 38 players were selected in the preliminary squad for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification matches against Morocco on 9 June 2022, respectively. [55]

Caps and goals are correct as of 14 November 2021, after the match against Ghana.

No.Pos.PlayerDate of birth (age)CapsGoalsClub
1 GK Ronwen Williams (1992-01-21) 21 January 1992 (age 30)240 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns
1 GK Veli Mothwa (1991-02-12) 12 February 1991 (age 31)50 Flag of South Africa.svg AmaZulu
1 GK Bruce Bvuma (1995-05-15) 15 May 1995 (age 27)30 Flag of South Africa.svg Kaizer Chiefs
1 GK Brandon Peterson (1994-09-22) 22 September 1994 (age 28)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Kaizer Chiefs

2 DF Innocent Maela (1992-08-14) 14 August 1992 (age 30)120 Flag of South Africa.svg Orlando Pirates
2 DF Nyiko Mobbie (1994-09-11) 11 September 1994 (age 28)120 Flag of South Africa.svg Sekhukhune United
2 DF Terrence Mashego (1998-06-28) 28 June 1998 (age 24)40 Flag of South Africa.svg Cape Town City
2 DF Lyle Lakay (1991-08-17) 17 August 1991 (age 31)31 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns
2 DF Grant Kekana (1992-10-31) 31 October 1992 (age 29)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns
2 DF Thibang Phete (1994-04-04) 4 April 1994 (age 28)10 Flag of Portugal.svg Belenenses SAD
2 DF Siyabonga Ngezana (1997-11-15) 15 November 1997 (age 24)20 Flag of South Africa.svg Kaizer Chiefs
2 DF Taariq Fielies (1992-06-21) 21 June 1992 (age 30)10 Flag of South Africa.svg Cape Town City
2 DF Luke Fleurs (2000-03-03) 3 March 2000 (age 22)00 Flag of South Africa.svg SuperSport United
2 DF Thabani Zuke (1998-09-11) 11 September 1998 (age 24)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Golden Arrows
2 DF Aubrey Modiba (1995-07-22) 22 July 1995 (age 27)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns
2 DF Athenkosi Mcaba (2002-01-09) 9 January 2002 (age 20)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Stellenbosch
2 DF Khuliso Mudau (1995-04-26) 26 April 1995 (age 27)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns
2 DF Bandile Shandu (1995-01-19) 19 January 1995 (age 27)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Orlando Pirates

3 MF Thapelo Morena (1993-08-06) 6 August 1993 (age 29)140 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns
3 MF Thabang Monare (1989-09-16) 16 September 1989 (age 33)20 Flag of South Africa.svg Orlando Pirates
3 MF Goodman Mosele (1999-11-19) 19 November 1999 (age 22)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Orlando Pirates
3 MF Sphephelo Sithole (1999-03-03) 3 March 1999 (age 23)00 Flag of Portugal.svg Belenenses SAD
3 MF Fortune Makaringe (1993-05-13) 13 May 1993 (age 29)30 Flag of South Africa.svg Orlando Pirates
3 MF Yusuf Maart (1995-07-17) 17 July 1995 (age 27)103 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns
3 MF Lebohang Maboe (1994-09-17) 17 September 1994 (age 28)61 Flag of South Africa.svg Sekhukhune United
3 MF Mduduzi Mdantsane (1994-12-13) 13 December 1994 (age 27)10 Flag of South Africa.svg Cape Town City
3 MF Phathutshedzo Nange (1991-12-11) 11 December 1991 (age 30)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Kaizer Chiefs
3 MF Jesse Donn (1999-04-09) 9 April 1999 (age 23)00 Flag of South Africa.svg SuperSport United

4 FW Percy Tau (1994-05-15) 15 May 1994 (age 28)3413 Flag of Egypt.svg Al Ahly
4 FW Keagan Dolly (1993-01-22) 22 January 1993 (age 29)213 Flag of South Africa.svg Kaizer Chiefs
4 FW Evidence Makgopa (2000-06-05) 5 June 2000 (age 22)63 Flag of South Africa.svg Baroka
4 FW Bongokuhle Hlongwane (2000-06-20) 20 June 2000 (age 22)62 Flag of the United States.svg Minnesota United
4 FW Lyle Foster (2000-09-03) 3 September 2000 (age 22)50 Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Westerlo
4 FW Fagrie Lakay (1997-05-31) 31 May 1997 (age 25)30 Flag of Egypt.svg Pyramids
4 FW Thembinkosi Lorch (1993-07-22) 22 July 1993 (age 29)71 Flag of South Africa.svg Orlando Pirates
4 FW Ashley Du Preez (1997-07-16) 16 July 1997 (age 25)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Kaizer Chiefs
4 FW Khanyisa Mayo (1998-08-27) 27 August 1998 (age 24)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Cape Town City
4 FW Pule Mmodi (1993-02-23) 23 February 1993 (age 29)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Golden Arrows

Recent call-ups

The following players were called up to a squad in the last 12 months. Caps and goals relate to the time at which the matches were played.

Pos.PlayerDate of birth (age)CapsGoalsClubLatest call-up
GK Sifiso Mlungwana (1997-04-27) 27 April 1997 (age 25)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Lamontville Golden Arrows vs. Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe , 3 September 2021

DF Siyanda Xulu (1991-12-30) 30 December 1991 (age 30)141 Flag of Azerbaijan.svg Turan-Tovuz vs. Flag of France.svg  France , 29 March 2022
DF Rushine De Reuck (1996-02-09) 9 February 1996 (age 26)130 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns vs. Flag of France.svg  France , 29 March 2022
DF Nkosinathi Sibisi (1995-09-22) 22 September 1995 (age 27)10 Flag of South Africa.svg Lamontville Golden Arrows vs. Flag of France.svg  France , 29 March 2022
DF Rivaldo Coetzee (1996-10-16) 16 October 1996 (age 25)240 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns vs. Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea , 25 March 2022 PRE
DF Sbonelo Cele (2001-08-27) 27 August 2001 (age 21)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Lamontville Golden Arrows vs. Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea , 25 March 2022 PRE
DF Veluyeke Zulu (1995-03-02) 2 March 1995 (age 27)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Chippa United vs. Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea , 25 March 2022 PRE
DF Sibusiso Mabiliso (1999-04-14) 14 April 1999 (age 23)10 Flag of South Africa.svg Kaizer Chiefs vs. Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe , 3 September 2021
DF Thabani Dube (1992-11-16) 16 November 1992 (age 29)60 Flag of South Africa.svg Kaizer Chiefs vs. Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe , 3 September 2021

MF Teboho Mokoena (1997-01-24) 24 January 1997 (age 25)143 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns vs. Flag of France.svg  France , 29 March 2022
MF Mothobi Mvala (1994-06-14) 14 June 1994 (age 28)91 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns vs. Flag of France.svg  France , 29 March 2022
MF Ethan Brooks (2001-11-22) 22 November 2001 (age 20)80 Flag of South Africa.svg TS Galaxy vs. Flag of France.svg  France , 29 March 2022
MF Pule Mmodi (1993-02-23) 23 February 1993 (age 29)00 Flag of South Africa.svg Lamontville Golden Arrows vs. Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea , 25 March 2022 PRE
MF Sipho Mbule (1998-03-22) 22 March 1998 (age 24)30 Flag of South Africa.svg SuperSport United vs. Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe , 3 September 2021
MF Sphelele Mkhulise (1996-02-19) 19 February 1996 (age 26)62 Flag of South Africa.svg Mamelodi Sundowns vs. Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe , 3 September 2021
MF Siyethemba Sithebe (1993-01-06) 6 January 1993 (age 29)80 Flag of South Africa.svg AmaZulu vs. Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe , 3 September 2021
MF Kobamelo Kodisang (1999-08-28) 28 August 1999 (age 23)00 Flag of Portugal.svg SC Braga B vs. Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe , 3 September 2021

FW Victor Letsoalo (1993-04-01) 1 April 1993 (age 29)44 Flag of South Africa.svg Royal AM vs. Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea , 25 March 2022 PRE
FW Vincent Pule (1992-03-10) 10 March 1992 (age 30)20 Flag of South Africa.svg Orlando Pirates vs. Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia , 9 October 2021
FW Gift Links (1998-10-02) 2 October 1998 (age 24)50 Flag of Denmark.svg AGF Aarhus vs. Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe , 3 September 2021
FW Luther Singh (1997-08-05) 5 August 1997 (age 25)103 Flag of Denmark.svg FC Copenhagen vs. Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe , 3 September 2021

Past squads


Aaron Mokoena became the first, and to date only, South African player to reach 100 caps on 31 May 2010, against Guatemala; to celebrate he wore a kit with the number 100 on the back.

As of 14 November 2021 [56]
Players in bold text are still active with South Africa.

Most appearances

1 Aaron Mokoena 10711999–2010
2 Itumeleng Khune 9102008–present
3 Siphiwe Tshabalala 89122006–2017
4 Siyabonga Nomvethe 82161999–2012
5 Benni McCarthy 81311997–2012
6 Shaun Bartlett 74281995–2005
7 John Moshoeu 7381992–2004
8 Delron Buckley 72101999–2008
Bernard Parker 72232007–2015
10 Lucas Radebe 7021992–2003
Teko Modise.jpg
Teko Modise and Siphiwe Tshabalala are the only two players that have scored 10 and more goals where South Africa has never lost a game when they have scored.

Top goalscorers

1 Benni McCarthy 31810.391997–2012
2 Shaun Bartlett 28740.381995–2005
3 Katlego Mphela 23530.432005–2013
Bernard Parker 23720.322007–2015
5 Phil Masinga 19580.331992–2001
6 Siyabonga Nomvethe 16820.21999–2012
7 Sibusiso Zuma 13670.191998–2008
Percy Tau 13340.382017–present
9 Tokelo Rantie 12410.292012–2017
Siphiwe Tshabalala 12890.132006–2017
Benni McCarthy is the first player to have scored a hat-trick for South Africa in 1998 February 16. BenniMcCarthy.jpg
Benni McCarthy is the first player to have scored a hat-trick for South Africa in 1998 February 16.

Victor Letsoalo is the first and only player to have scored a hat-trick for South Africa in his debut in 2021 July 13

List of South Africa hat-tricks

More than a hat-trick scored *
No.PlayerOpponentGoalsGoal TimesScoreVenueCompetitionDateRef(s)
1 Benni McCarthy Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia
Soccerball shade.svg8', 11', 19', 21'4–1 Stade Omnisport, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso 1998 Africa Cup of Nations 16 February 1998 [57] [58]
2 Victor Letsoalo Flag of Lesotho.svg  Lesotho
Soccerball shade.svg5', 44', 57'4–0 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa 2021 COSAFA Cup 13 July 2021 [59] [60]

Competitive record

FIFA World Cup

Although South Africa has made three appearances in the World Cup, they have not made it past the first round. The team's first attempt to qualify was for the 1994 World Cup. The team finished second in their group, behind Nigeria, who went on to play at the World Cup.

Their first appearance was in France 1998, six years after they had been readmitted to FIFA. Despite a 3–0 drubbing to France in their opening game, they went on to draw against Denmark and Saudi Arabia; the team finished third and thus exited the tournament. Korea/Japan 2002 was expected to be an opportunity for Bafana Bafana to step up to the next level, but they were eliminated at the group stage despite drawing to Paraguay and beating Slovenia 1–0 for their first-ever World Cup win. The team finished third in their group, losing out to Paraguay on goal difference.

The team failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup after finishing third in their qualifying group. Ghana won the group and progressed to the tournament, while Congo DR finished ahead of South Africa on head-to-head results. During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, they beat France 2–1 and drew 1–1 to Mexico, but lost 0–3 to Uruguay. They failed to advance to the round of 16, on goal difference, for their second World Cup in a row.

FIFA World Cup recordFIFA World Cup qualification record
Flag of Uruguay.svg 1930 Did not enterDid not enter
Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg 1934
Flag of France (1794-1815, 1830-1958).svg 1938
Flag of Brazil.svg 1950
Flag of Switzerland.svg 1954
Flag of Sweden.svg 1958
Flag of Chile.svg 1962
Flag of England.svg 1966 Not admitted [61] Not admitted
Flag of Mexico.svg 1970 BannedBanned
Flag of Germany.svg 1974
Flag of Argentina.svg 1978
Flag of Spain.svg 1982
Flag of Mexico.svg 1986
Flag of Italy.svg 1990
Flag of the United States (Pantone).svg 1994 Did not qualify421124
Flag of France (lighter variant).svg 1998 Group stage24th3021368611113
Flag of South Korea (1997-2011).svg Flag of Japan.svg 2002 17th3111558710133
Flag of Germany.svg 2006 Did not qualify105141214
Flag of South Africa.svg 2010 Group stage20th311135Qualified as hosts
Flag of Brazil.svg 2014 Did not qualify6321125
Flag of Russia.svg 2018 83141111
Flag of Qatar.svg 2022 641162
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Flag of Mexico.svg Flag of the United States.svg 2026 To be determinedTo be determined
TotalGroup stage3/229243111650308126742

FIFA Confederations Cup

FIFA Confederations Cup record
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg 1992Banned
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg 1995Did not qualify
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg 1997 Group stage8th301257 Squad
Flag of Mexico.svg 1999 Did not qualify
Flag of South Korea (1997-2011).svg Flag of Japan.svg 2001
Flag of France (lighter variant).svg 2003
Flag of Germany.svg 2005
Flag of South Africa.svg 2009 Fourth place4th511346 Squad
Flag of Brazil.svg 2013 Did not qualify
Flag of Russia.svg 2017
TotalFourth place2/108125913

Africa Cup of Nations

Africa Cup of Nations record
Flag of Sudan (1956-1970).svg 1957 Qualified, later disqualified because of apartheid
Flag of the United Arab Republic.svg 1959 Banned because of apartheid
Flag of Ethiopia (1897-1936; 1941-1974).svg 1962
Flag of Ghana.svg 1963
Flag of Tunisia (1959-1999).svg 1965
Flag of Ethiopia (1897-1936; 1941-1974).svg 1968
Flag of Sudan (1956-1970).svg 1970
Flag of Cameroon.svg 1972
Flag of Egypt (1972-1984).svg 1974
Flag of Ethiopia (1975-1987).svg 1976
Flag of Ghana.svg 1978
Flag of Nigeria.svg 1980
Flag of Libya (1977-2011).svg 1982
Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg 1984
Flag of Egypt.svg 1986
Flag of Morocco.svg 1988
Flag of Algeria.svg 1990
Flag of Senegal.svg 1992
Flag of Tunisia.svg 1994 Did not qualify
Flag of South Africa.svg 1996 Champions 1st6501112
Flag of Burkina Faso.svg 1998 Runners-up 2nd632196
Flag of Ghana.svg Flag of Nigeria.svg 2000 Third place3rd632186
Flag of Mali.svg 2002 Quarter-finals6th412133
Flag of Tunisia.svg 2004 Group stage11th311135
Flag of Egypt.svg 2006 16th300305
Flag of Ghana.svg 2008 13th302135
Flag of Angola.svg 2010 Did not qualify
Flag of Equatorial Guinea.svg Flag of Gabon.svg 2012
Flag of South Africa.svg 2013 Quarter-finals6th412153
Flag of Equatorial Guinea.svg 2015 Group stage15th301236
Flag of Gabon.svg 2017 Did not qualify
Flag of Egypt.svg 2019 Quarter-finals7th520334
Flag of Cameroon.svg 2021 Did not qualify
Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg 2023 To be determined
Flag of Guinea.svg 2025
Total1 Title10/33431612154845
*Red border color indicates tournament was held on home soil.

African Nations Championship record

African Nations Championship
Appearances: 2
Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg 2009 Did not qualify
Flag of Sudan.svg 2011 Quarter-finals6th430164
Flag of South Africa.svg 2014 Group stage9th311155
Flag of Rwanda.svg 2016 Did not qualify
Flag of Morocco.svg 2018
Flag of Cameroon.svg 2020
Flag of Algeria.svg 2022

African Games

Football at the African Games has been an under-23 tournament since 1991.
African Games record
Flag of the Republic of the Congo.svg 1965 -000000
Flag of Nigeria.svg 1973 -000000
Flag of Algeria.svg 1978 -000000
Flag of Kenya.svg 1987 -000000
1991–presentSee South Africa national under-23 football team


COSAFA Cup Record
Flag of South Africa.svg 20081330041
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg 20094311132
Flag of Zambia.svg 20133321042
Flag of South Africa.svg 20150101000
Flag of Namibia.svg 20161321094
Flag of South Africa.svg 20175320131
Flag of South Africa.svg 20185321071
Flag of South Africa.svg 20195303011

All-time record against other nations

As of 27 September 2022 after match against Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana [62]

OpponentGPWDLGFGAGDwin %
Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria 412145−125.00%
Flag of Angola.svg  Angola 14851179+857.14%
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 311123−133.33%
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 2111464727+2052.38%
Flag of Benin.svg  Benin 110020+2100.00%
Bandera de Bolivia (Estado).svg  Bolivia 100101−10.00%
Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana 151150268+1866.66%
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 5005312−90.00%
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria 10101100.00%
Flag of Burkina Faso.svg  Burkina Faso 9531146+855.56%
Flag of Burundi.svg  Burundi 220040+4100.00%
Flag of Cameroon.svg  Cameroon 93511410+433.33%
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 110020+2100.00%
Flag of Cape Verde.svg  Cape Verde 521266040.00%
Flag of the Central African Republic.svg  Central African Republic 220050+5100.00%
Flag of Chad.svg  Chad 220070+7100.00%
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile 100102−20.00%
Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia 110021+1100.00%
Flag of the Republic of the Congo.svg  Congo 1054184+450.00%
Flag of Costa Rica.svg  Costa Rica 220031+2100.00%
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic 10102200.00%
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark 312032+133.33%
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  DR Congo [lower-alpha 1] 641185+366.67%
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador 10100000.00%
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt 12714118+358.33
Flag of England.svg  England 200224−20.00%
Flag of Equatorial Guinea.svg  Equatorial Guinea 321051+466.67%
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia 421154−10.00%
Flag of France.svg  France 4113311−825.00%
Flag of Gabon.svg  Gabon 4301103+775.00%
Flag of The Gambia.svg  Gambia 211040050.00%
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia 100114−30.00%
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 401329−70.00%
Flag of Ghana.svg  Ghana 155551313035.71
Flag of Guatemala.svg  Guatemala 211061+535.71
Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea 201203−30.00%
Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg  Guinea-Bissau 110031+2100.00%
Flag of Honduras.svg  Honduras 10101100.00%
Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland 301226−40.00%
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq 10100000.00%
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel 110021+1100.00%
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 200203−30.00%
Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg  Ivory Coast 724164+228.57
Flag of Jamaica.svg  Jamaica 514064+220.00%
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 10100000.00%
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya 431062+475.00%
Flag of Lesotho.svg  Lesotho 137422210+1253.84
Flag of Liberia.svg  Liberia 211032+150.00%
Flag of Libya.svg  Libya 211021+150.00%
Flag of Madagascar.svg  Madagascar 642050+566.67%
Flag of Malawi.svg  Malawi 13931205+1569.23%
Flag of Mali.svg  Mali 522175+240.00%
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta 110010+1100.00%
Flag of Mauritania.svg  Mauritania 201124−20.00%
Flag of Mauritius.svg  Mauritius 141031245+1971.42%
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 4112510−525.00%
Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco 623197+233.33%
Flag of Mozambique.svg  Mozambique 6510144+1083.33%
Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia 9621178+966.67%
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 200214−30.00%
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 6510269+1783.00%
Flag of Niger.svg  Niger 210132+150.00%
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria 152581025−1513.33%
Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea 10100000.00%
Ulster Banner.svg  Northern Ireland 100112−10.00%
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 310223−133.33%
Flag of Panama.svg  Panama 10101100.00%
Flag of Paraguay.svg  Paraguay 413074+325.00%
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland 210111050.00%
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 200215−40.00%
Flag of Ireland.svg  Republic of Ireland 200213−20.00%
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia 412133025.00%
Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland 210121+150.00%
Flag of Senegal.svg  Senegal 102441013−320.00%
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia 100113−20.00%
Flag of the Seychelles.svg  Seychelles 321090+966.67%
Flag of Sierra Leone.svg  Sierra Leone 413141−10.00%
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia 110010+1100.00%
Flag of Sao Tome and Principe.svg  São Tomé and Príncipe 220062+4100.00%
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain 410358−325.00%
Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan 430161+5100.00%
Flag of Eswatini.svg  Swaziland 9810266+2088.89%
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 210113−250.00%
Flag of Tanzania.svg  Tanzania 311122033.33%
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand 110040+4100.00%
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg  Trinidad and Tobago 210123−150.00%
Flag of Tunisia.svg  Tunisia 621379−233.33%
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 110020+2100.00%
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda 321042+266.67%
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates 100101−10.00%
Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay 301237−40.00%
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 300306−60.00%
Flag of Zambia.svg  Zambia 226972123−227.27%
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe 157262415+946.67%
  1. Includes matches against Flag of Zaire (1971-1997).svg  Zaire .

By Federation

AFC 3012995431+2340.00%
CAF 3041539160420241+17950.16%
CONCACAF 206862627-130.00%
CONMEBOL 1936101830-1215.78%
OFC 6510269+1783.00%
UEFA 46107293771-3421.73%


^1 In 2008 and 2009, SAFA sent a 'Development XI' to the COSAFA Cup. These matches thus do not count towards the senior national team's records.

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