South Africa

The team

It’s not often that home support becomes a disadvantage, but never before has a host nation been burdened with such expectations – and somewhat unrealistic expectations at that. To their credit, Bafana Bafana tallied a good run of results prior to the FIFA World Cup, albeit against teams far inferior to their Group A opposition.

The coach

Carlos Alberto Parreira Parreira has a knack for defying the odds. Over his long and established career, he has guided Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia to World Cup qualification, as well as overseeing Brazil’s 1994 World Cup-winning side. He took control of the South African national side in late 2006, and, after a break in 2008, was lured back to stabilise the team after their humiliating failure to qualify for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.

Player to watch

Teko Modis
Though his name might not be familiar to many European football fans, midfielder Teko Modise is widely considered to be the beating heart of his national side. Teko was recently crowned South African Player of the Year after an impressive season with club side Orlando Pirates. It’s likely that after the World Cup he’ll have a string of big-name European clubs vying for his signature.

We’re on the ball

World Cup appearances: 2
Previous best: Group stages, 1998 & 2002
Odds of winning: 125/1
Strange but true: Unlike many managers, Carlos Alberto Parreira has never played professional football
Fixtures: Mexico, June 11, 6pm, Johannesburg Uruguay, June 16, 10.30pm, Pretoria France, June 22, 6pm, Bloemfontein

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