2010 FIFA Preview: South Africa

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 02: FIFA President Joseph Sepp Blatter, Deputy President of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe, CAF President Issa Hayatou,Irvin Khoza,Bafana bafana and coaching staff during the 2010 FIFA World Cup LOC 100 Days Roadshow at Moses Mabhida Stadium, March 02, 2010 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa)

    SOUTH AFRICA PREVIEW
    FIFA RANK: 90

    I know we've just started but i'm already bending the rules a little here. North Korea is actually ranked lower than South Africa in FIFA, but I felt it was only right to give first respects to the host country.

    If you know anything about South Africa, then you know things haven't been easy there when it comes to race relations. Twenty years ago, South Africa was still torn by Apartheid, and it took a massive overhaul of its government and way of thinking to get perceptions to change. It doesn't hurt when a world figure like Nelson Mandela leads the way.

    Needless to say, this is a major event for the country and continent in general. Its the first World Cup on African soil and you better believe South Africa will do whatever it takes to make this a memorable event for the entire World.

    Now here's where I burst the bubble. Unfortunately, neither Nelson Mandela or Matt Damon (Invictus reference! It was Rugby, but you get the point) will be on the field for the Banafa-Bafana and there aren't high expectations overall for this team. Crazier things have happened tough. South Korea made it all the way to the semi's in 2002 when it hosted, and the home crowd always seems to give the host some amazing momentum. Plus they have history on their side. No home country has ever failed to make it out of the group stage. Making it out of the group stage this time around would be the country's best finish in its soccer history.

    Despite all that, FIFA didn't do this team any favors. Three tough matches lie ahead in the group and keep in mind they didn't have to go through qualification because they were host.

    Good luck to the Bafana-Bafana, but I believe the party ends in the group stage.

    MATCH SCHEDULE:
    June 11 VS. Mexico - 9 a.m. CT (Kicks off the entire tournament)
    June 16 VS. Uruguay - 1:30 p.m. CT (Best chance for win)
    June 22 VS. France - 9 a.m. CT (Interesting match, France could already be qualified for Round of 16, meaning they could take it easy and not play starters)