Statistics: South Africa's record against European opposition
Posted: 11 October 2012 Time: 2:49 pm
Bafana Bafana, who are preparing to face Poland in Warsaw on Friday, have a record against European opposition that leaves a lot to be desired.
South Africa have won just nine of their 39 previous matches against teams from the continent and only one of those came against a power of the European game – a French side in disarray at the 2010 World Cup.
Other successes have come against Malta, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, Turkey, Slovenia, Norway and Poland.
The victory over the Poles came on home soil in the lead-up to the 2009 Confederations Cup when Terror Fanteni scored on six minutes, which proved enough for the win.
Bafana will hope to draw some confidence from that game tomorrow, though only three of the Polish side that played that day remain in the squad: left-back Marcin Komorowski, and forwards Marek Saganowski and Robert Lewandowski.
South Africa's first victory over European opposition was against Sweden in 1999, when Siyabonga Nomvete scored late on for a 1-0 win.
Their only victory in Europe was against lowly Malta the following year, with Thabo Mngomeni on the scorsheet against the tiny island nation, which has a population roughly the same as Benoni's.
The biggest victories against nations from the continent came within three days of each other, as Bafana beat Scotland and Turkey, both by a 2-0 margin, in the Hong Kong Reunification Cup ahead of the 2002 World Cup.
But largely it has been a tale of disappointment, though Bafana have never been humiliated by European opposition, as they have been against the likes of Nigeria and Mexico in the past.
A 4-2 loss in Germany was tough to take but many better sides have fared worse in that country, while there were also 3-0 defeats against France in the opening game of the 1998 World Cup, Germany in 1997 and in Sweden in 2001.
Their two heaviest defeats came in matches when they might have been expected to do much better. They lost 4-1 in Georgia under Jomo Sono in 2002 and went down by the same scoreline in Iceland under Stuart Baxter in 2005.
Their biggest home defeat against European opposition was a 3-1 loss to Serbia in August 2009, one of the last games in charge for Brazilian coach Joel Santana.
Bafana's 39 games have yielded 32 goals for and 60 against, though out of the 21 European nations they have faced so far, they have failed to score against just three of those – Italy (two games), Netherlands and Portugal.
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