2020 has been quite the year! On a personal, national and even global note, it has left so many tears behind.
But in the midst of the challenges, there’s been a few football moments that have provided the silver lining for South Africans.
FARPost takes a look at some of those moments below.
Pitso Mosimane’s double treble
Without a doubt, from the very first day Pitso Mosimane stepped out of the shores of our country to take on a new challenge in Egypt, it was a proud moment for South Africans.
No local coach had ever done that, at least at the level of Al Ahly. The historic move came straight after he performed the Houdini Act, winning the league title on the last day with Mamelodi Sundowns when it looked like Kaizer Chiefs had it all captured and later completing a treble.
‘Jingles’ was to further make the people of Mzansi even happier when he led Ahly to another treble.
Of course, his detractors would argue that his predecessor Renè Weiler did most of the work. But the popular rhetoric question is – what would they have said if he had failed to win any of the three cups he won?
And then again, winning the coveted Caf Champions League makes him only the third coach to win it twice with two different clubs. That was certainly an achievement worth all the celebrations.
“You made most Egyptians proud and you made most South Africans proud. After the final whistle, the whole of Cairo International Stadium erupted singing your name. We felt proud as South Africans,’’ said Safa president Danny Jordaan, who attended the final in Cairo.
Banyana Banyana’s record seventh title
Throughout the years, even in the darkest times for South African football, Banyana has been the nation’s crowning glory, a lone beacon of excellence and hope in a sea of bleak failure.
Banyana did not disappoint when Desiree Ellis led a group of young girls, with several rookies, to their record seventh Cosafa title after defeating Botswana 2-1 in Port Elizabeth.
“Banyana are the Cosafa champions and this is the fourth consecutive time. But I think what’s significant is that this time we have 32 women playing across the world but the coach decided not to call them for COSAFA – players like Thembi Kgatlana, Linda Motlhalo and Refiloe Jane, who is playing for AC Milan,” Jordaan said.
Indeed, it was the fourth successive Cosafa Women’s Cup title as Ellis’ charges underlined their regional dominance.
“I think if they really look back at what they have achieved, it’s a moment to remember. We had 25 days in our training camp to prepare after being out for seven months. I have to applaud the players, they are the key role players here,” Ellis said.
Janine van Wyk Uefa WCL appearance
The 33-year-old, whose more than 150 appearances for the national team make her the most-capped player in the country of either sex, became the most prestigious signing in Glasgow City’s 21-year history.
The Banyana Banyana skipper completed her return to Europe after joining the Scottish champions on July 14 and united with her teammates two weeks later in the build-up to their European campaign.
Besides the fact that the move came about in spectacular fashion – right on Instagram – it was a joy to see her play in the Uefa Women’s Champions League.
She played the full game for City against Wolfsburg in a Uefa Women’s Champions League quarter-final clash in San Sebastián, northern Spain. Unfortunately, she was on the losing side.
“It happened over social media,” she told FARPost. “I was searching for a club abroad to play for because of the situation in South Africa and women’s football not currently active, so it happened that Glasgow was looking for an experienced defender too, so they reached out to me and within three weeks I found myself signed for a top team in Scotland.”
5 European deals in 10 Days for Banyana Stars
Around the same period – July – it was some extraordinary streak when five Banyana players moved to European clubs in a space of 10 days.
Besides Van Wyk, Amanda Mthandi joined Spanish side CD Badajoz just days after national team defender Nothando Vilakazi’s switch to Spanish side EDF Logroño and Jermaine Seoposenwe’s, pictured below, move to Portuguese side Sporting Braga.
During the same period, Kelso Peskins became the fifth Banyana star to join a new home abroad, joining Stade Brestois 29 Feminine in France on a one-year deal.
Ellis has repeatedly said the moves in Europe can only bode well for the national team. “This is incredible and amazing – five players in 10 days‚ it’s mind blowing and I wish them all of the best. I know they will do the country proud‚” she said at the time.
“They will continue to grow as individuals and they will bring back all the experience to the national team. I am confident and almost certain that there will be more announcements. In actual fact I am afraid to blink or you wake up the next day there is another signing‚ but that is just the way it is at the moment.”
Amajimbos booking an Afcon berth
Seeing Amajimbos claim the winner’s trophy at the Cosafa Qualifiers for Under 17 Afcon 2021 in Morocco provided another proud moment.
After all, they were lifting the regional title in this age-group for the first time since 2002.
Amajimbos defeated holders Zambia 4-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the decider in Nelson Mandela Bay to spark wild scenes of celebration.
Both sides had already qualified for the continental finals in Morocco, which will have been a major aim before the tournament, but Zambia had to settle for the silver medal after losing the shoot-out.
Amajimbos also extended their record number of wins in the competition to three, one more than the Zambians.
Bongani Zungu joining Gerrard’s Rangers
Another momentous 2020 occasion took place in Glasgow, Scotland when Bongani Zungu stood right next to Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
There was an air of optimism and excitement as the Bafana Bafana star signed for Scottish club Glasgow Rangers on loan.
Zungu, who joined Rangers from French club Amiens, was photographed receiving his jersey from Gerrard – the man tipped to take over from Jurgen Klopp when the German finally leaves Anfield.
The former Sundowns midfielder, capped 31 times for the national side, was elated to play for a club with such a great history.
“It means a lot to me and I am very happy to be here and play for team with such a great, rich history,” Zungu told the club website.
Percy Tau inching closer to EPL dream
For the first time since his move from Sundowns in 2018, it now seems the man from Witbank is about to realise his dream of playing in the EPL for his parent club Brighton and Hove Albion.
The 26-year-old is in his third loan spell in Belgium and he is yet to don the Seagulls jersey since he left South Africa two years ago, initially because of work permit issues.
Brighton are making frantic efforts to cut his loan deal short at Anderlecht and boost their attacking options with the Bafana talisman next month.
“It’s fair to say it’s something we’re looking to do, but there are a few things to go through first,” Brighton coach Graham Potter was quoted by Sky Sports last week.
“He brings some attributes that are interesting, he has had a good experience in Belgium.
“He brings something a little bit different to what we have got and he wants to take the next step in his career – we want to help him do that.”
Perhaps in the New Year, South Africans will watch their countryman ply his trade in arguably the most-followed League in the world.
Themba Zwane finally winning top awards
After years of being overlooked, Sundowns’ talisman ‘Mshishi’ finally scooped PSL’s top awards.
He was the biggest winner at the end of season awards as he scooped Midfielder of the Season, Players’ Player of the Season and the biggest accolade of the night – Footballer of the Season.
For the fifth successive time, the top award was won by a local footballer. Zimbabwean Khama Billiat was the last foreign national to win it during his time with Sundowns at the end of the 2015/16 season.
RELATED STORY: Banyana clinch fourth consecutive Cosafa title
By Mthokozisi Dube