AFRICA’S WORLD CUP: 10 Years On

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It seems like it was only yesterday when Kagisho Dikgacoi, Teko Modise, Katlego Mphela and Reneilwe Letsholonyane joined Siphiwe Tshabalala near the corner flag for that famous goal celebration at the FNB Stadium on a cold Friday night.

A defence-splitting pass from Dikgacoi to Tshabalala for a scotcher of a goal introduced hosts South Africa to the World against Mexico in the opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Today marks exactly 10 years since that unforgettable night of the first ever and the only FIFA World Cup held on African soil.

FARPost caught up with former Bafana Bafana midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi to reminisce on that significant day in the history of South African football and the whole continent.

“On our way to the (FNB) stadium, the roads were packed everywhere and everyone was wearing their yellow t-shirts rallying behind us so that’s when the nerves started to kick in,” explains Dikgacoi.

“We all said listen we can’t disappoint these people so we need to put in 110% effort to make them proud. But unfortunately on the day we didn’t win (playing to a 1-1 draw with Mexico) but I think we gave it our best… we were just unfortunate.

“The was no doubt that the sprit (in the squad) was going to be high and the togetherness was going to be there because the team had been in camp for some time, I remember some of the guys went to camp three months before but only a few of us couldn’t join because our teams wouldn’t let us go to camp, but that really helped us to be one team,” said Dikgacoi who was then in the books of English club, Fulham.

Although South Africa became the first host nation to exit the World Cup in the group stage after finishing 3rd in Group A, the 35-year-old feels the World Cup brought the nation together.

“We were obviously disappointed that we were knocked out (in the group stage) but I was not disappointed because everyone gave their all. If you look into that game against Mexico we deserved to win, ‘Killer’ (Katlego Mphela) had a chance and Teko (Modise) had two chances so it’s game we could have won. The second game we got a red card (Itumeleng Khune) obviously killed us but we never gave up until the last game against France (which SA won 2-1),” he said.

“The World Cup (on home soil) was definitely the best highlight of my career because it felt that we could all be united because we had racial divisions but that World Cup brought us together. You could see that everyone loved each other and supported us from the bottom of their hearts.”

Dikgacoi also feels that the South African Football Association (SAFA) have lost touch with the legacy that the World Cup brought to this country.

“To be honest I think SAFA, I don’t know if they gave up on football or what. I mean what they did before and during the World Cup is something that needed continuity, I mean the support they gave the coaches and the players was right during the World Cup.

“But after the World Cup it seems like they are no longer there you know, if you were to bring those countries that we played against (during the World Cup) today I don’t think the national team would perform better than when we played them at the time. So had we continued with the same mentality I think we would have been far better than what we are right now,” said ‘KG’ who is the owner of International Sports Apparel Design Institute (IsaDi).

Bafana went on to win 1, drew 1 and lost 1 to finish with 4 points, tied with second placed Mexico, who advanced to the next round through a superior goal difference.

The matches were played in 10 stadiums in nine host cities around the country, with the opening and final played at Soccer City.

Spain defeated Netherlands 1-0 in the final after extra time to win their first and only FIFA World Cup title.

RELATED STORY: 10 remnants from Bafana’s 2010 World Cup squad

By Ofhani Munyai

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