On Saturday, 7 July 2012, South Africa will be celebrating 20 years of returning to the FIFA football family.
After years of international isolation due to discriminatory apartheid policies, South Africa was re-admitted and played their first match on the 7th of July 1992 when they played Cameroon in an international friendly.The match was played in Durban’s Kings Park Stadium.
Former Bafana Bafana midfielder Doctor Khumalo scored the only goal from the penalty spot as Bafana cantered to a precious 1-0 victory. This was the country’s first ever international goal.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for this country since then.
Among some of the country’s major achievements to date are:
•Hosted and won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations tournament
•Won silver in the following edition held in Burkina Faso in 1998
•Qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup tournament in France
•Won the bronze medal at the AFCON edition hosted by Nigeria and Ghana in 2000
•Qualified for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan
•Successfully hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament
Over the years South Africa has also produced players who have graced the international stage like Lucas Radebe, Benni McCarthy, Mark Fish and Steven Pienaar just to mention a few.
The country has also produced astute administrators who now occupy seats at both FIFA and CAF – the likes Dr Molefi Oliphant, Dr Irvin Khoza, Dr Danny Jordaan, Raymond Hack, Anastasia Tsichlas, Jomo Sono and Kaizer Motaung.
South Africa has also become training ground for most African countries, with some of our fields used by various national teams and clubs for training camps due to the magnificent facilities available.
“It has really been a rollercoaster of a journey since the country was readmitted into the FIFA family. There have been very exciting moments like the hosting of the 2010 World Cup but of course, there have also been really low moments,” said SAFA President, Kirsten Nematandani.
“That aside, I think this country has really taken its place among the world’s leading role players in the Beautiful Game. We look forward to hosting the 2013 AFCON tournament with great excitement knowing this country has never failed putting up a great showpiece,” added Nematandani.