The Bafana Bafana are the South African national football team. They played their first match against Australia on 10 May, 1947. In 1957 they were invited to play in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) but because of their constitutional policy of segregating teams into all white and all black, decided to field two teams. This was unacceptable to the confederation and they were disqualified from playing. In 1958, the South Africans were expelled from CAF because of their apartheid policies.
In 1958, they were admitted to FIFA but conditionally on the grounds that they not violate FIFA's non-discriminatory policy. In 1961 they were suspended due to non-compliance for two years until Stanley Rous the new FIFA chairman decided to reinstate them. However the increase in the newly free African and Asian countries in FIFA's annual meeting in 1964 reinstated the ban. In 1976, South Africa was formally expelled from the FIFA after the Soweto uprising.
In 1991, with the policy of apartheid demolished, a new multiracial South African Football Association was formed. On June 7, 1991, South Africa played its first football game in two decades against Cameroun.
In the 15 years since, South Africa have qualified for the World Cup in 1998 and 2002 but made early first round exits in each. They also won the Africa Cup in 1996 in six appearances. They have established themselves as one of Africa's premier teams along with Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroun, Senegal, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Tunisia. However they failed to qualify for this year's World Cup, a huge blow as they came third in the CAF Group 2 behind Ghana and the DR Congo. They further failed to impress in the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations by not managing to score a single goal.
Bafana Bafana have a handful of international stars like Shaun Bartlett, Delron Buckley, and Benni McCarthy. However, they are not household names like Kanu, Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Kolo Toure, Adebayor, Jay Jay Okocha, Samuel Eto'o, or Henri Camara. These three will most likely be past their prime by the time 2010 rolls around. There are quite a few exciting prospects in the firmament but they are very young and inexperienced and will require a very good coach to make them matchworthy. South Africa being the host will not have to play qualifiers, so their team will have to rely on many friendlies for preparation. Their first big test will be the Africa Cup of Nations in 2008 and the Olympic Games later the same year.