Abafana baseMzansi - Part 4

Memba Ben By Memba Ben, 31st Jul 2018 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3sb43xvn/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Sports>Football (Soccer)

A series looking back at the history of the South African national football team with this installment focusing on the Mandela Cup match against the then reigning FIFA World Cup winners, Brazil.

Samba with the Seleção

Despite winning the 1996 AFCON, Clive Barker and his men knew they couldn’t afford to rest on their laurels as the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the inaugural FIFA Confederations Cup (which they qualified for by winning AFCON) were to be held later in the year but before they could focus on those fixtures, they had to play the current World Cup holders, Brazil.

The Mandela Cup (now known as the Nelson Mandela Challenge) was a two team tournament that South Africa hosted both to honor former president Nelson Mandela and to raise funds for the Nelson Mandela Children’s’ Fund, an organisation that helped charities for disadvantaged children. In truth, it was nothing more than a glorified friendly but the level of opposition teams that SAFA invited and subsequently brought also acted as a test to gauge how good Bafana Bafana were in comparison to the giants of the game and for the 1996 edition, SAFA brought a full strength Brazilian side.

Despite the match against the Seleção being touted as the biggest since the tournaments inception, it wasn’t the first time South Africa faced top opposition. A year earlier, Bafana Bafana held Argentina to a credible draw and throughout the subsequent years also hosted the Netherlands and France.

In the game against Brazil, South Africa raced into a 2-0 lead before the Samba Kings fought back to win the trophy 3-2 but even though the boys lost, the match proved that Bafana could hold their own against world class opposition and also served as a warning of what to expect in the upcoming Confederations Cup.


If you happened to miss previous installments in the series:


Tags

Football Soccer, History, Soccer, South Africa

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author avatar Memba Ben
A fan's view on the business of football.

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