South Africa's football team will be making only its second-ever World Cup appearance when it takes part in the finals in South Korea and Japan. It is hoping to do better than four years ago in France when it failed to win a game.
South Africa's preparations for this World Cup have been somewhat difficult. The man who guided them in qualifying, Carlos Queiroz of Portugal, is out as coach. After the team did poorly in the 2002 African Cup in Mali, the South African Football Association appointed local "technical advisors" essentially to keep Queiroz under homegrown surveillance. He then quit.
He has been replaced by South African Jomo Sono, who has said experiments with different players and formations is the main reason behind his team's poor form in the buildup to the World Cup.
South Africa is in Group B for first round play with Spain, Slovenia and Paraguay. International football commentator Derek Rae says South Africa got a fortunate draw.
"The one thing in their favor is it is not an impossible group. It is a group they could conceivably get out of," he said. "They could qualify for the second round from it, so I would say they are an outside bet. I do not think an awful lot is expected from them this time. For my money, they are certainly by no means the best team in Africa. But then again, in World Cups you never know."
Many South Africans believe the coaching switch was needed. Queiroz had a more laid-back professorial style. Coach Sono is more verbal. It is hoped he will instill passion in the team to equal or exceed the passion that fans in South Africa have for football