Tue, 26 Jan 2021

Africa Cup of Nations-winning captain

Led by Tovey, Bafana Bafana hosted and won the 1996 Cup of Nations, defeating Tunisia 2-0 in the final with Mark Williams scoring a second-half brace.

Among those who watched the triumph was then President Nelson Mandela, the political prisoner-turned-international icon who met the squad frequently during the tournament.

South Africa then qualified for the 1998 World Cup in France thanks to a 1-0 win over Congo Brazzaville at the same 80 000-seat Soweto stadium where they overcame the Tunisians.

After a heavy loss to France in Marseille, Bafana Bafana drew with Denmark and Saudi Arabia to return home winless.

The national team remained among the strongest in the continent for several years, reaching the 2002 World Cup and finished second and third in the 1998 and 2000 Cup of Nations.

But 2004 marked a turning point as South Africa were eliminated after the first round of the Cup of Nations in Tunisia and have not been serious title contenders since.

They automatically qualified for the 2010 World Cup only to become the first host nation not to get beyond the first round having drawn with Mexico, lost to Uruguay and beaten France.

In the 2018 World Cup qualifiers South Africa came a humiliating last in a four-nation group with a home loss to Cape Verde, an island state of 500 000 people, particularly embarrassing.

"I do not understand why the national team is not that good because the national league is among the best in Africa," retired Cameroon superstar Samuel Eto'o told last year.

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