The team's first attempt to qualify for the FIFA World Cup came in 1994. The squad finished second in their group, trailing Nigeria, who advanced to the World Cup. They won France 2-1, drew 1-1 with Mexico, and fell 0-3 to Uruguay at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
South Africa has never missed the tournament out of four opportunities. They were eliminated in the first round on three occasions (1974, 1978, and 1990) and won the event in 1986.
Overall, South Africa has appeared in nine events and has won one title - the 1986 World Cup. They have been eliminated in the first round of the other eight tournaments they have entered.
After finishing fourth at the 1974 World Cup, South Africa failed to qualify for the next two events. They returned in 1978 but were again eliminated in the first round after losing all their matches. A decade later, they could not repeat the same mistake as many critics had written them off after they failed to advance from their group at the 1988 European Championships. However, South Africa made history by becoming the first African country to reach the quarterfinals when they defeated Soviet Union 1-0 through a goal scored by Paul Gascoigne. But they lost to Germany 1-4 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 after extra time. At the 1992 Olympics, South Africa was drawn into the same group as Australia, England, and Sweden.
They were eliminated from the round of 16 due to goal differential. Uruguay finished first in their group while France came in second.
In fact, only three other teams have been eliminated after one round: Italy in 1934 and 1958 and Germany in 2002. All three countries were ranked in the top 10 at the time of their elimination.
South Africa was expected to do well at the World Cup. With a young team that was considered to be among the best in Europe, many people thought they had a good chance of making it to the quarterfinals or beyond. However, early problems with player injuries and lack of form showed that this would not be possible. They were defeated by more experienced teams in their preliminary matches, which eliminated them from contention of winning the cup.
However, despite their early exit, the country took part in an event that is unique to South Africa. Known as "The Other Tournament", several of the world's top soccer clubs competed against each other without any national identity. The final match was held between Barcelona and Manchester United where the Catalan club won 3-0.
The Eagles finished third in the African Cup of Nations in 2010 and were competing in their fourth World Cup finals. South Korea, as it is often called, was competing in the World Cup finals for the seventh time, more than any other Asian country.
On July 11, 2010, the final was held at Soccer City in Johannesburg. Spain overcame the Netherlands 1-0 in extra time thanks to a goal by Andres Iniesta. Spain won their first World Cup with the victory. The victors of the final wore their second choice strip for the first time since England in 1966.
The Daily Telegraph claimed on June 6, 2015, that Morocco had won the poll, but South Africa was given the tournament instead. On November 25, 2007, the qualification draw for the 2010 World Cup was place in Durban. South Africa qualified for the tournament automatically as the host nation.
In 1996, Angola qualified for their first Africa Cup of Nations. They were assigned to Group A, which included South Africa, Egypt, and Cameroon. They lost their first two games to Egypt and South Africa before drawing 3-3 with Cameroon. They finished last in their group and did not advance to the second round. The next year they were joined by Nigeria as winners of Group B. That tournament was held in Tunisia and called the African Cup of Nations Finals because there was no World Cup that year.
Angola has failed to qualify for the finals since. The only time they made it past the first round was in 2002 when they defeated Zimbabwe 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. They went on to lose their next three matches without scoring a goal.
The most recent Africa Cup of Nations was held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2009. Angola was again one of the eight teams in the competition. They started off well by winning both their opening matches against Lesotho and Zambia but then lost five straight games without conceding a goal. This is the only Africa Cup of Nations title that Angola has won so far.
Their best finish since entering the cup was fourth place in 1995, when they hosted the event. They have never reached the final match since then.
Angola has never qualified for the World Cup.
Thirty-one African countries boycotted the World Cup due to concerns over the amount of guaranteed spots in the tournament. Portugal finished third, losing 2-1 to England in the semi-finals, while North Korea defeated Italy 1-0 on their route to the quarter-finals, when they were defeated by Portugal 5-3.
Brazil, along with Argentina, Spain, and Germany, is one of only four countries to have won a FIFA World Cup outside of its own continent (Sweden in 1958, Mexico in 1970, the United States in 1994, and South Korea/Japan in 2002). Brazil is the only national team to have competed in every FIFA World Cup, with no absences or the necessity for playoffs.
South Africa has competed in three FIFA World Cups: in 1998, 2002, and 2010. Despite three World Cup participation, South Africa has never advanced past the first round. They were given a wild card spot, and they played and won their first match against Israel with James Mayhew scoring the only goal of the game.
South Africa was one of six countries that participated in the inaugural tournament in 1930. The other countries were Argentina, Australia, France, Italy, and Uruguay. South Africa lost its only match 1-0 to Uruguay.
The second World Cup was held in 1950. South Africa again took part as one of the nine founding members of FIFA. However, this time they were eliminated in the first round after losing both of their matches. Nigeria beat South Africa 1-0 in Lagos and then 3-1 in Nairobi. Due to these two losses, Nigeria went on to win the competition.
Eight years later, at the third World Cup in 1958, South Africa finished last of the three remaining nations. They had been drawn into a group with France, North Korea, and Sweden. However, South Africa was able to defeat France 2-1 in its opening match before being shut out by North Korea 0-3. This was followed by another loss to Sweden (1-4).
South Africa was defeated by Scotland, defeated by Ireland and Wales, and drew with England. They also defeated a representative French team comprised of two Parisian teams. The date in brackets denotes when the record was established or was last set.
Scotland vs SA (1915) - first match between these two countries. It took place at the Thistle Field in Edinburgh and ended in a 3-3 draw. Two of Scotland's goals were scored by Davie Wilson, one of whom (Wilson) is now considered a local hero in South Africa because of his role in the development of soccer here. The other Scottish player who received credit at the time but is now forgotten is John MacLean, who scored two of his side's three goals.
Ireland vs SA (1920) - second match between these two countries. It took place at Dalymount Park in Dublin and ended in a 2-1 win for Ireland. Goals were scored by James Duffy and Jack Taylor. This was the only international game played by Nelson Mandela who was selected as a forward for South Africa. He came off the bench in the 73rd minute and scored the winning goal after already having one attempt blocked by the Irish goalkeeper.
Wales vs SA (1929) - third match between these two countries. It took place at Cardiff Arms Park and ended in a 1-0 win for Wales.