Nations Cup 2013: South Africa team profile

Thulani Serero

Nations Cup record: Seven previous appearances. Best finish: Champions (1996).

South Africa are very lucky to be contesting these finals.

Ranked outside the top 16 countries in Africa, and with a Nations Cup qualifying record that has been poor in recent times, Bafana Bafana are only at the competition because of the political turmoil that stopped Libya from hosting it.

The 2010 World Cup hosts successfully applied to swap its 2017 Nations Cup staging with the North Africans and the decision could prove crucial, for playing at home might give their limited side the extra element they need to perform well.

Playing before passionate capacity home crowds was a key factor when South Africa won the competition 17 years ago, with a 2-0 triumph over Tunisia.

However, the current group of players is short on quality - and they are also going to have to do without their best player, Steven Pienaar, who quit international football to concentrate on his Premier League career with Everton.

As usual, goalscoring is still the major problem - with a knee injury to main striker Katlego Mphela, arguably the only South African player with a genuine eye for goal, causing sleepless nights for coach Gordon Igesund, whose side scored just twice in his first five games.

But Igesund says: "When the national team runs on the field and there are tens of thousands of people blowing their vuvuzelas (plastic horns), we will be very difficult to defeat.

"If my boys get the backing of all South Africans, and continue to display a positive attitude, we really can go all the way and conquer Africa."

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