After the decline of apartheid and the repeal of sanctions, South Africa returned to international football in July 1992 with a 1-0 win over Cameroon in Durban.
The team’s high point arrived in 1996 when, as hosts, they won the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, with coach Clive Barker’s team defeating Tunisia 2-0 in the final.
Two years later they made their FIFA World Cup debut in France, though they exited at the group stage. Further strong showings at the AFCON and qualifying for the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan demonstrated that Bafana Bafana were amongst Africa’s best teams at the start of the 21st century, but they have been on a decline ever since.
They failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and bombed out of the AFCON in the same year without even scoring a single goal.
Under Joel Santana, Bafana reached the semifinals of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup on home soil, but a year later, in Africa’s first World Cup and under the guidance of former Brazil manager Carlos Alberto Parreira, they exited the tournament in the first round, becoming the only host nation to have failed in this manner in the tournament’s history.
The team’s low point arrived in 2011 when they drew at home with Sierra Leone and mistakenly thought they had qualified for the following year’s AFCON, when in fact they had not.
Further disappointment followed with the failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.