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Nickname: BafanaBafana (The Boys)
Number of World Cup appearances: 2
Best World Cup finish: First Round (1998, 2002)
2010 marks the first World Cup held on African soil and the magnitude of that statement couldn’t be any stronger in terms of the pressure that it places on the shoulders of the hosts. But before you all but count out this relatively unknown team, know that no host nation has ever failed to advance past the group stage. It certainly won’t be easy with regulars France and Mexico amongst their quartet in Group A, not to mention upstart Uruguay.
Also consider the valuable experience BafanaBafana gained this past summer in the Confederations Cup, eventually falling to Brazil in the semi-finals and to Spain in the third-place game.
Coach Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, who captured World Cup glory in 1994 with his home country, has the blueprint for success and many feel he is the man to carry this rapidly improving football nation to heights never seen before on the world’s stage.
2010 South Africa World Cup Odds
South Africa is currently 100/1 odds to win the World Cup.
6/1 odds to win Group A.
Key Player To Watch
If you watched any of last year’s Confederations Cup or follow England’s Premiership, South Africa will rely heavily on midfielder Steven Pienaar. The 27-year-old has made his name for EPL side Everton and playing in the world’s best domestic league has prepared him well for the talent on display this summer. This winger has great pace up and down the pitch and he can really keep opposing defenses on their toes with his ability to navigate with his skillful dribbling.
Best Team Asset
South Africa knows they lack the talent on paper shown by most of the countries in this tournament. However, not just the country of South Africa but the entire continent will give them a piece of their heart. And you can count on thevuvuzelas (noise-making trumpet that will collectively engulf stadiums with the sound of a swarm of bees) to be out in full force and in the hands of every local rooting on The Boys.
Key Team Weakness
The host lacks the explosiveness that most of the favorites and world powers bring to the table. And unlike Greece, for example, who was able to dumb down play when they shocked Euro 2004 to win the tournament as similar type underdogs, South Africa will not drop back in a shell and play ‘ugly’ defensive football. Their stubbornness, for lack of a better word, will allow for goal-scoring chances but will also fail to stop the counterattacking they will see from the best football nations on the globe.
South Africa World Cup Predictions
With all that is on the line, it really is too much to ask for South Africa to win Group A. France is likely to find the top spot, but I do see a win during group play for the hosts, and considering the shaky nature of Mexico during qualifying, not to mention the unknown of wildcard Uruguay, a spot in the final 16 is absolutely obtainable and if accomplished would be considered a great success.
Key First Round Match (best betting opportunity)
No doubt, if you want to jump on the host nation, do it in the opener. You can’t place enough emphasis on how big this first game will be for South Africa. The whole continent will be following and backing this underdog side, and considering that no host nation has failed to make it to at least the Round of 16, a fast start with a very winnable game v. Mexico on June 11 is the way to go for Bafana Bafana.
South Africa World Cup Group Play Schedule
v. Mexico, June 11, 2010 – 10 a.m. ETat Soccer City (Johannesburg)
v. Uruguay, June 16, 2010 – 2:30 p.m. ETat Loftus Versfeld (Tshwane/Pretoria)
v. France, June 22, 2010 – 10 a.m. ET at Free State (Mangaung/Bloemfontein)
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