SA TIMES-First Time on African Soil And first Goal For the African team scoring for the first time on the African Soil The 2010 FIFA World Cup “It’s Tshabalala … goal, Bafana Bafana! Goal for South Africa, goal for all Africa!”
It’s always the pause after ‘Tshabalala’ that gets me when I revisit that beautiful – perhaps the most beautiful – South African sporting moment.
It’s as if Peter Drury needed a second to digest what had just happened. We all did.
Regardless of where you were or what you were doing, the chances are good that you remember that moment vividly. I certainly do.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup will always represent the very beginning of my journalism career. I had joined the Natal Witness newspaper on a three-month contract as a junior reporter to cover every angle relating to South Africa’s hosting of sport’s greatest spectacle, with the exception of the football itself, sadly.
I travelled to schools, bars, fan parks, businesses, restaurants and walked the streets of Pietermaritzburg and Durban covering the excitement that accompanied the world, and the game’s brightest stars, arriving on our doorstep.
I remember the red and white Coca-Cola branding draped all over the Suncoast Casino as I attended the launch of Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’. It was hardly a musical masterpiece, but to this very day when that almost irksome jingle plays, probably far too late in the evening, I am taken straight back to that crazy, unforgettable month.
Day after day, South Africa bustled
There are very few examples of South African sport truly uniting this nation by breaking down barriers of race and class. The 1995 and 2019 Rugby World Cup triumphs certainly did, but the 2010 World Cup was something special.
There was an element of shared pride attached to staging something of this magnitude.
There were doubts surrounding South Africa’s ability to host the tournament given the challenges of crime and failing service delivery, but when the time came, this country stood up and delivered one of the most memorable World Cups of all time by showing off its finest qualities.
South Africans sold a picture of a vibrant, friendly nation to their overseas visitors. For one month, little else mattered and our World Cup was celebrated.
Those yellow Bafana Bafana jerseys were on sale at every major intersection and it felt like everyone had one.
I remember dancing with the Dutch in Durban, attending Paraguay’s practice sessions in Pietermaritzburg and I remember so many South Africans wondering why the brotherhood they were experiencing had not been part of everyday life before the World Cup.
In many ways, it all feels like a dream now.
So much has changed in 10 years.
The lustre of THAT goal, though, remains.
I was at a fan park at Pietermaritzburg’s Woodburn Rugby Stadium, armed with a pen, notepad and a camera that wouldn’t hold a candle to most smart phones these days.
As I walked around snapping familiar faces and conducting interviews before kick-off, it was clear that few were giving Bafana Bafana a realistic chance. The party had started, and fun would be had, but few believed their national side could win.
And then, it happened.
Many were in mid-conversation and not even looking at the big screens when the goal went in, but it didn’t matter. It was a moment as euphoric as any seen before or since in South African sport and the countless replays drew ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. Bafana Bafana were stunning the world.
The lead lasted just 24 minutes before Mexico equalised, and South Africa’s tournament never recovered, but for those 24 minutes, we were on top of the world.
It is a memory that will never leave this great nation.
It was the day Siphiwe Tshabalala and Bafana Bafana shook the earth.
Tshabalala Goal VS Mexico In World Cup 2010 **SA TIMES**