The national football team, Bafana Bafana, are determined to qualify for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in more than 20 years, and in the process, they want to take a leaf out of the Springboks’ book and inspire a nation.
The journey for the national side starts on Saturday when they host Benin in Durban in their first 2026 World Cup qualifier, while next week they will be up against Rwanda in Kigali.
The last time Bafana played at the World Cup was in 2010, but as the tournament was played in South Africa they qualified automatically.
The last time they managed to qualify was for the 2002 World Cup that was played in Japan and Korea.
Since then, the years have been very lean for the 1996 AFCON champions, and they have even enjoyed very little success when it comes to qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Bafana are on an 11 match unbeaten run leading into the qualifiers and their first two opponents should not be much of a challenge, however, they will be warned against complacency.
Earlier in the month the national rugby team, the Springboks inspired a nation once again when they won the Rugby World Cup for a record-breaking fourth time. In addition, the Proteas are excelling at the ICC Cricket World Cup in India and they are set to face the five-time champions, Australia, on Thursday in the semi-finals.
The Bafana Bafana captain, Ronwen Williams, said they want to take a leaf out of the Springboks book.
“There are a lot of negative things that are going on and you need to be strong and try to be that inspiration for things to change,” said the Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper.
“I have seen Siya Kolisi always speaking about that in his press conferences – he doesn’t speak about them winning, he speaks about being an inspiration to the country.
“That’s what we are trying to do – to bring hope to the country and to the people struggling at home. It’s not easy.
“With the small platform that we’ve got, we try and do what we can to put South Africa on the map and do what we can to bring hope to the next generation.”
Saturday’s game at the Moses Mabhida Stadium kicks off at 15:00.