World Cup South African national football team Bafana Bafana fall

The FIFA World Cup in Russia will have made for some sobering viewing for fans of South Africa, and not just because the side did not qualify to participate at the global showpiece.

It has also been a perfect illustration of just how far the national team has slipped in terms of their standing in the world game, and how much work needs to be done to get them back to among the elite on the continent, let alone a competitive side globally.

Of course, Bafana Bafana have been in the doldrums for some time now, but they were once ranked No. 16 in the world, shortly after their 1996 African Nations Cup victory, and were a match for anybody.

Over that period they played Germany, Argentina, Brazil, England, Netherlands and France, and proved competitive opponents in all of those games even if they…

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