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South Africa (RSA)
Back where they belong
South Africa will celebrate a decade back in the international fold in 2002 when they participate in the FIFA World Cup finals in Korea and Japan, after the end of their long period of isolation because of the country's apartheid policies. In the last 10 years, the country has emerged as a strong power on the African continent and has already enjoyed a substantial period of time as the top ranked African nation on the FIFA World Rankings.
South Africa also qualified for the last FIFA World Cup finals in France and were winners of the African Nations Cup finals in 1996, which they hosted. Last year, they narrowly lost to Germany in a hard-fought bid to win the right to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals. With more and more key players now competing in the leagues of Europe, 'Bafana Bafana' will be hoping to draw on that experience and do considerably better than the two draws and one defeat they recorded at France '98.
Coach Carlos Queiroz, who took Portugal to the world under-20 championship title in 1991, is now in charge of a South African side who proved competent in the qualifiers. Players like Sibusiso Zuma, Delron Buckley, Siyabonga Nomvete and captain Shaun Bartlett are emerging as the new generation of potential match-winners for the country. South Africa's economic strength and strong corporate sponsorship interest in soccer means the country's football can afford to compete regularly with some of the leading teams in the world and there have been recent encounters against the likes of world champions France, Sweden, Denmark and Mexico.
Kaizer Motaung, Patrick Ntsoelengoe, Jomo Sono, Doctor Khumalo, Lucas Radebe
FIFA World Cup finals qualification 1998
African Nations Cup winners 1996
African Nations Cup finals qualification 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002
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