By and large, the year 2019 took football followers on a roller-coaster ride subjecting them to contrasting emotions – ecstasy, anxiety, pain, suspense and other fiery emotions.
It was the year of the underdogs and the usual suspects romping to glory in domestic football.
We witnessed individuals doing the unthinkable things. On and off the pitch there were moments that took our breath away and also had us cringing. Was it Pitso Mosimane’s comments or him carving his name further on historic tablets?
Was it Rhulani Mokwena’s ascendancy and subsequent descend? Was it Benni McCarthy’s midnight woes? Was it was Sipho Mbule’s caressing the ball? Was it Judas Moseamedi demolishing the big guns? Was it the officiating? Was it Kaizer Chiefs’ bullet train doing the most? Was it Hlompho Kekana’s thunderbolt against Cape Town City or his reaching 300 matches for Mamelodi Sundowns? Was it Banyana Banyana making it to the World Cup?
There were all ingredients, the good, the bad and the ugly, in the 2019 footballing year for South Africa. FARPost lists 10 Most Memorable Things of the year.
1. Coaching Merry Go Round
On the coaching front, Rhulani Mokwena, 34, became the youngest coach in the PSL after his ascendancy to the hottest seat at Pirates. His tenure didn’t last long as a series of undesirable results didn’t do him a favour as he would later be replaced by Josef Zinnbauer.
The shocker was Benni McCarthy getting the sack. Cape Town City released a statement at awkward hours to inform the world that Mzansi’s fovourite striker is gone. Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter’s resignation was also interesting and so was the appointment of his successor, Molefi Ntseki. The changing of coaches at Limpopo sides – Black Leopards and Polokwane City have been interesting. The bosses in Limpopo are closing in on Chippa Mpengesi, the undisputed boss of the changing coaches.
2. Percy Tau in Uefa Champions League
The sight of Percy Tau, with the Champions League anthem in the background, lining up against some of the best players in the world gave many South Africans goosebumps. Lion of Judah is an inspiration to most South Africans.
3. National Under-23s Qualifying For 2020 Tokyo Olympics
David Notoane’s young guns qualifying for the Olympics bodes well for a country with too much talent. We can’t wait to see the likes of Sipho Mbule, Teboho Mokoena, Keletso Makgalwa, Luther Singh and others competing against the best in the world.
4. Banyana Banyana at the Fifa Women’s World Cup in France
For the first time in the history of football, Banyana Banyana represented the country at the World Cup in France. It’s a great milestone and a message to many women in South Africa that they too matter and have a place in our football. Even though we didn’t win even a single match, our team made us proud. Just appearing on the big stage and having the country’s flag exposed to millions among a billion people who watched the World Cup is priceless. Only if the country can invest more in women’s football.
5. TS Galaxy Upset
One of the most brilliant but underrated coaches in the country, Dan ‘Dance’ Malesela led National First Division TS Galaxy into pulling the mother of all shocks when his men beat Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 in the final of the Nedbank Cup. It was the first time that a team from a lower division won the tournament. Malesela and his men went on to represent the country well in CAF Confederation Cup.
6. Kaizer Chiefs Resurgence
Kaizer Chiefs took to this season like a house on fire. They are proving to be unstoppable and currently lead all and sundry in the Absa Premiership. In the last couple of seasons, Chiefs have been leading in branding and now they seem to be on their way to rekindling their glory days laden with trophies.
7. Teko Modise Retirement
One of the best players of his generation, Teko Modise closed the curtain on his glittering career. Modise’s emergence brought so much joy to South Africa. He was loved by rivals. Whether he was in a City Pillars, SuperSport United, Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns or Cape Town City or Bafana Bafana jersey The General was a breath of fresh air. His retirement is legit and he deserves legendary status. His personal story is utter inspirational.
8. Safa Launching Women’s League
In a country where violence against women is rife, anything to advance women should be welcomed. The move to have a professional and competitive league for women in the country is a step in the right direction. Hopefully more women will get a chance to have their talents exposed. There’s a need to have more women like Refiloe Jane, who plays for Italian giants AC Milan.
9. Offside Referees
News of referee Victor Gomes officiating at the Under-17 Fifa World Cup this year did not even make headlines as his colleagues have been fumbling with questionable decisions in the PSL. The standard of refereeing has dropped drastically. The powers-that-be have not shown urgency in resolving this issue. It’s sad to hear coaches talking about benefits instead of superior tactics and skills.
10. Bafana Knocking Egypt Out of Afcon
This shouldn’t even be on this list. It’s here because our standards have dropped. South Africa winning the Africa Cup of Nations should be at the top but it was good to see Bafana shrug off The Pharaohs in the last 16 of the Afcon. Victory was made sweet by the fact that the scorer Thembinkosi Lorch was called by the public and also that Egypt were hosts. And they had Mo Salah, one of the best players in the world.
By Hosea Ramphekwa