Did you know that Bafana Bafana were once ranked 16th in world football?
Yep, that’s right – this was in August 1996. Now Bafana are ranked 71st.
It was on the back of some great performances including winning the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on home soil, just four years after re-admission to international football.
FARPost Editor Tiyani wa ka Mabasa selects Bafana Bafana’s Top 10 performances he has ever seen.
10. Spain 3-2 SA (12 June 2002)
Guided by Jomo Sono, Bafana were not going to lie down and let Spain walk over them in this World Cup Group B clash played in South Korea.
The Europeans were in the lead after just 4 minutes courtesy of a goal by Raul, but Benni McCarthy found the equaliser after half an hour. Gaizka Mendieta put ‘La Roja’ 2-1 up just before the break, but Bafana captain Lucas Radebe equalised in the 53rd minute.
Disaster struck however and a blunder by goalkeeper Andre Arendse allowed Raul to fire in Spain’s third just three minutes later and there was no comeback this time for Bafana. A good performance, nonetheless.
9. SA 3-0 Zambia (8 June 1997)
Bafana were two-nil up after just 16 minutes, with Helman Mkhalele and the late Phil Masinga putting their names on the scoresheet in a World Cup qualifier.
Mark Williams added a third in the second half to cap off a great performance from the hosts to send the visitors (led by Kalusha Bwalya) home empty handed.
8. SA 0-0 Germany (15 December 1995)
In front of 25 000 spectators at Johannesburg Stadium, it was an opportunity for Bafana to show what they could offer at the Afcon that was starting the following month.
Germany were guided by Berti Vogts and on the field, Jurgen Klinsmann led the frontline, but Bafana held on to deny the Europeans a win.
7. Egypt 0-1 SA (6 July 2019)
With the Pharaohs playing at home and Mohamed Salah on their side, Bafana, on paper, didn’t stand much of a chance. But what happened out on the field was a different story with Stuart Baxter’s boys delivering an unexpected performance to reach the Afcon quarterfinals (they lost to Nigeria).
6. SA 3-0 Cameroon (13 January 1996)
The win set the tone of what was to come from Bafana in the 1996 Afcon. Bafana were on song and scored early on through Masinga, before Williams and Shoes Moshoeu added their names to the scoresheet in a match played at FNB Stadium. Bafana went on to be crowned the African Champions.
5. Nigeria 0-2 SA (11 June 2017)
This was Bafana’s first ever competitive win against the West Africans, played in Uyo, in South Nigeria. It was an Afcon qualifier.
Bafana’s previous win against Nigeria had been in a friendly played in 2004 (2-1). Playing away, Bafana were not given a chance to come back with all three points, but goals from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau silenced the Nigerians (and Bafana’s critics).
4. SA 1-0 Congo (16 August 1997)
The 1998 FIFA World Cup beckoned, but Bafana faced a challenge from the Central Africans in a match played at FNB Stadium. Masinga eased the nerves with a 14th minute strike from some distance that’s still considered one of the best Bafana goals ever. Bafana coach Clive Barker got off the bench to do his ‘Aeroplane’ celebration, much to the delight of the nation.
3. SA 2-0 Tunisia (3 February 1996)
In front of SA’s first democratic elected president, Nelson Mandela, the nation’s hopes rested on captain Neil Tovey and his boys, and they didn’t disappoint at Soccer City.
Williams fired in a brace, with the second coming off from a fantastic through pass from Doctor Khumalo. It was a performance that helped the nation put behind SA’s dark Apartheid past.
2. SA 2-3 Brazil (24 April 1996)
Following Bafana’s success in the Afcon, they challenged Brazil, who boosted in their ranks the likes of Bebeto and Rivaldo. Bafana, however, proved to be no pushovers with Phil Masinga and Khumalo ensuring a 2-0 lead heading into the break.
But the excitement across the nation was short-lived as the ‘Samba Boys’ rallied to score three goals in the second half. Despite the loss, Bafana deserved a pat on the back for a fantastic performance.
1. SA 3-0 Ghana (31 January 1996)
What a performance, especially from Moshoeu, who got a brace on the night at FNB Stadium.
This was arguably Bafana Bafana’s biggest test during the 1996 Afcon. Clive Barker’s boys lived up to and exceeded expectations as they made the final, which they won. Bafana could hardly put a foot wrong against Abedi Pele and company.
Bafana were in the lead after just 22 minutes with Moshoeu on the scoresheet and Shaun Bartlett added a second just after the break, before Moshoeu put the final nail in Ghana’s coffin with three minutes to go. Credit also to Lucas Radebe and his defence for keeping then deadly striker Anthony Yeboah quiet in front of 75 000 spectators.
WHO’S THE WRITER?
Mabasa has been a Football Journalist since 2005, starting out at Soccer Laduma, before joining Kick Off magazine in 2009 as Chief Reporter. Six years later, he moved to Sowetan as Senior Football Writer, before joining FARPost as Editor from October 2019. He’s had the privilege to watch and cover Bafana matches over the years.