The story

It is an unwritten rule of all World Cups: if the host nation fails on the pitch, interest in the competition dies off the pitch.

As the 500 day countdown to the 2010 World Cup begins, most commentators have focused on South Africa's preparedness, with the country's vast unfinished stadiums causing concern in some quarters.

But far more worrying for the country's fans is the state of the national football team. "Bafana Bafana" -- or "The Boys" - have recently plummeted down the Fifa rankings.

Wednesday's 2-0 loss to Chile in a friendly game at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in South Africa, and the lackluster form the team showed have led many to wonder whether they will be the worst host nation in the tournament's history.

Bafana Bafana has gone from being one of Africa's great hopes in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, and winning the African Cup of Nations in 1996, to not qualifying for the 2006 tournament in Germany. Since then, they appear to have been on to a losing streak. See South Africa's rocky road to 2010. Read full article »

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