Bafana Bafana seek Mali revenge
01 February 2013 | Keba Mothoagae
On 2 February 2013, almost 11 years to the day, South Africa’s national team will look to settle the score against Mali in a quarterfinal match of Afcon 2013 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The significance of the defeat in 2002 is that Bafana Bafana has failed to progress past the group stage of every tournament since.
Many pundits point to that result as the side’s 'official' slide from a powerhouse of African football to an also-ran, struggling to even qualify for a major tournament bar the privilege of automatic qualification that comes with being awarded hosting rights.
The following table appears to prove this assertion, starting with the side’s victory in 1996 when the tournament was last held in South Africa, and into systematic mediocrity since:
• 1996, champions
• 1998, runners-up
• 2000, bronze medallists
• 2002, quarterfinalists
• 2004, group stages
• 2006, group stages (finished last, did not score a goal and lost all matches)
• 2008, group stages
• 2010, failed to qualify
• 2012, failed to qualify
Gordon Igesund’s men are currently riding a wave of euphoria sweeping the nation after they broke the group stage curse in this year’s tournament, and will look to overcome a Malian team determined to give its war-ravaged country a glimmer of hope for better things to come. The match starts at 8.30pm.
In other last eight clashes, four times winners Ghana will take on surprise package Cape Verde at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth earlier in the day at 5pm.
The best team in Africa, Ivory Coast, who boast players from the big leagues of Europe, will look to stop their underachievement of the past 21 years by seeking victories against fellow underachieving giants Nigeria in the clash of the round at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on 3 February.
Kicking off at 5pm, the match sees the Ivorians and the Nigerians having not won the tournament since 1992 and 1994 respectively.
Later on at 8.30pm, the dark horses flying under the radar, Burkina Faso and Togo, collide at the Mbomela Stadium in Nelspruit. Both sides are yet to win the tournament, and have been tipped to cause an upset in later rounds.