Bafana Bafana’s must-win clash with Senegal in Polokwane on Friday will be their 50th FIFA World Cup qualifier since the country first competed to win a place at the global showpiece tournament for the 1994 tournament in the USA.
Bafana will hope to mark the milestone with a win that will keep their hopes of reaching the finals in Russia next year alive ahead of their final qualifier in Dakar on Tuesday.
The previous 49 qualifiers have resulted in 29 wins‚ eight draws and 12 defeats since their first‚ a humbling experience away in Nigeria in 1992 when they lost 4-0.
That team lacked international experience and know-how‚ but learnt quickly on the global stage as they qualified for the next two finals‚ France 1998 and South Korea/Japan 2002.
The team has not been successful in a qualification campaign since‚ though they took their place at the 2010 tournament on home soil as hosts.
They still went through the qualification process for that competition though as it doubled-up as the preliminaries for the 2010 African Nations Cup.
In qualifiers at home‚ the team have played 25‚ winning 18 of those‚ a fine record. They have four draws and just three defeats‚ with those losses coming against Ghana (0-2‚ 2005)‚ Nigeria (0-1‚ 2008) and Cape Verde (1-2‚ 2017).
Two of those have been on current coach Stuart Baxter’s watch.
Away they have been less successful‚ with 11 wins‚ four draws and nine defeats in their 24 matches.
The biggest victories for the side in qualifiers both came at home as they defeated Equatorial Guinea (2008) and Botswana (2013) by 4-1 scorelines‚ while their heaviest defeat was that first game against the Super Eagles.
Bafana have scored 67 goals in their 49 qualification matches‚ with Shaun Bartlett (seven) heading the list of marksmen‚ followed by Phil Masinga (six) and Bernard Parker (five).
by Nick Said – TimesLIVE