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South Africa 1998: Celebrating Bafana Bafana's classic World Cup team

9:15 AM GMT 11/11/2022
Bafana Bafana 1998 South Africa
Subsequently, the SA team also qualified for the 2002 edition in South Korea/Japan and then hosted it in 2010, their last appearance to date.

It's now 24 years since the South African national side Bafana Bafana debuted in the Fifa World Cup - at France 1998.

The World Cup in France came just four years after Bafana Bafana's readmission to the international stage and just two years after their stunning triumph in the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations.

It had been Clive Barker who had inspired Bafana to success in the Afcon final win over Tunisia, but by the time the World Cup came around, Frenchman Philippe Troussier was at the helm.

South Africa did themselves relatively proud in Group C though failed to advance after ending third, following a 3-0 loss to France, a 1-1 draw with Denmark and a 2-2 draw with Saudi Arabia.
Many of the players who did duty for Bafana in France almost a quarter of a century ago will surely go down among the true greats in South African football.

  • Bafana Bafana 1998 World Cup France Hans Vonk

    Hans Vonk

    The Johannesburg-born Vonk was largely unknown to Bafana supporters as he had spent his formative years in the Netherlands and was called up while playing for Heerenveen. He even played for the Netherlands national under-20 team but after making his Bafana debut in May 1998, he went on to play for South Africa at the World Cup, keeping Brian Baloyi on the bench. Vonk later played for both Ajax Amsterdam and Ajax Cape Town.

  • Pierre Issa

    Pierre Issa

    The current sporting director of the Greek side Olympiacos, Issa was born in Germiston, Johannesburg, and is of Lebanese descent. He was based in France with Marseille at the time of the World Cup and once went on loan to Chelsea, but didn't get any game-time. A centre-back who could play right-back too, Issa was unfortunate to score an own goal in SA's opener in the 1998 World Cup, the second goal of a 3-0 defeat at the hands of hosts and eventual champions France.

  • Lucas Radebe

    Lucas Radebe

    The 'Chief' as he became known at Leeds United, was halfway through his eight-year stay with the English Premier League team when he captained Bafana at the World Cup. Played well throughout the tournament and the ex-Kaizer Chiefs Soweto-born Radebe remains one of Bafana Bafana's best ever centre-backs and most popular skippers.

  • Libery Masunda and Willem Jackson - Chiefs vs Pirates

    Willem Jackson

    After making is name in the PSL with Bloemfontein Celtic, the Orlando Pirates defender was two years into his eight-year stay with Bucs when the World Cup came around. A tenacious centre-back, Jackson took no prisoners in the tackle. Started two of the three World Cup matches in '98.

  • Mark Fish against Tunisia

    Mark Fish

    Fish was an ever-present alongside Radebe in the heart of the Bafana defence in France '98 and had a solid tournament. The ex-Orlando Pirates and Lazio (Italy) defender was playing for Bolton Wanderers in England's top-flight at the time of the 98 World Cup.

  • David Nyathi and Brian Laudrup

    David Nyathi

    The nuggety left-back played for Orlando Pirates, the original Cape Town Spurs and Kaizer Chiefs in the PSL before leaving for Spanish side CD Tenerife. He was based with FC St. Gallen in Switzerland at the time of the World Cup and remains one of the best left-backs to have played for South Africa - an attacking force when overlapping wide defenders were just starting to become popular.

  • Doctor Khumalo of Bafana Bafana

    Doctor Khumalo

    Only came on as a sub in the last game as he enjoyed just 25 minutes of World Cup action in 1998. Many South Africans will feel that the Kaizer Chiefs legend should have played more.

  • Quinton Fortune

    Quinton Fortune

    The Cape Town-born midfielder was playing in Spain for Atletico Madrid at the time of being selected for the World Cup. He played the entire first two games (France and Denmark) and was subbed with 25 minutes to go against Saudi Arabia. He then famously went on to play for Sir Alex Ferguson's all-conquering Manchester United side. His cultured left-boot, assured touch and snappiness in the tackle made him an integral part of the Bafana side.

  • John Moshoeu

    John Moshoeu

    The late Moshoeu, who enjoyed two stints with Kaizer Chiefs, was playing for Turkish giants Fenerbahce in 1998. The silky skilled midfielder is right up there with the very best talents to have ever played for South Africa. A driving force from midfield, he could do it all - dribble, pass, shoot, and was a joy to watch. Played every minute for Bafana in France that year.

  • Shaun Bartlett and Benni McCarthy

    Shaun Bartlett

    Came on as a last-minute sub for McCarthy against France, but he started the next two games, and grabbed a brace against Saudi Arabia. His last minute penalty though wasn’t enough for Bafana to advance. The former Cape Town Spurs marksman was playing for Swiss club FC Zurich at the time, and later went on to star in the English Premiership for Charlton Athletic.

  • Phil Masinga of Bafana at the World Cup

    Phil Masinga

    The Klerksdorp-born Masinga was playing for then Serie A side Bari at the time of the World Cup, having previously been with Radebe at Leeds, who signed him from Mamelodi Sundowns. The ex-Jomo Cosmos marksman, who sadly passed away in 2019, started against France and came off the bench against Denmark but did not feature in the final game.

  • Benni McCarthy of Bafana Bafana.

    Benni McCarthy

    Based at Ajax Amsterdam at the time, a 20-year-old McCarthy led the Bafana line impressively after starting all three matches. He scored the equaliser against Denmark, beating Peter Schmeichel - a goalkeeper he would later go on to score against in the Uefa Champions League and in the Premier League.