Facts & figures: South Africa

Factbox on World Cup hosts South Africa: World Cup record:

Previous appearances in finals: 2

Best performance: Group stages in 1998 and 2002

Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira, who won the World Cup as coach of his native Brazil in 1994. He has been brought back for a second spell after October's sacking of Joel Santana. Parreira had originally been appointed to guide the hosts' fortunes for the 2010 tournament but quit after his wife fell ill in April 2008. He has also coached at World Cups with Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Key players:

Steven Pienaar (Everton) Age: 27. Midfielder.

The diminutive Johannesburg-born midfielder has had a career beset with a troublesome ankle but is the one of few South Africans regularly playing in a major European league. He was a squad member at the 2002 World Cup finals but did not play. He has since become his country's most valuable player.

MacBeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan) Age: 31. Midfielder.

Hard-tackling defensive midfielder who is the anchor of the team. Has won successive Russian league tiles with Rubin Kazan and been almost ever-present for South Africa's national team over the last two years.

Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa) Age: 24. Defender.

A flying left back who is the only player chosen to play for South Africa in a competitive international while still on the books of a second division club. Since moved to Israel, where he won the league championship last season and a UEFA Champions League group berth this season.

FIFA world ranking November 2009: 86

How they qualified:

South Africa qualified as hosts but were the first host country to participate in the preliminaries since Italy in 1934 because the World Cup qualifiers were also being used to determine the finalists for the 2010 African Nations Cup.

South Africa had a poor campaign and although they finished second in their group behind Nigeria, they did not make it to the final stage as one of the best-placed runners-up.

Prospects: Few are giving the host nation any chance because of their low ranking but with a little momentum Bafana Bafana could yet surprise many pundits. They proved their potential by running Brazil close in the semi-final of the Confederations Cup.