As host, South Africa hasn't had to kick a ball in anger to reach the World Cup, but its failure to qualify as one of Africa's top 16 teams for next January's Nations Cup is a worrying indicator of its prospects. No host nation has ever failed to make it out of the group stage, however, and Bafana Bafana ("the Boys") will hope to avoid being the first by finishing in the top two places.
Expectations are not high, after a long string of disappointing results. Bafana Bafana got a tougher draw than it might have hoped for, opening the tournament against Mexico before taking on Uruguay and France, who will be delighted at being drawn against the weakest seeded team (South Africa). But despite the passion of the local fans, TIME predicts that the hosts will not make it through, leaving South Africans to cheer for other African countries in the knockout stages.
Predicted Finishing Order
1. France 2. Mexico 3. South Africa 4. Uruguay
Next Group B