21 December 2012
As they did in 2011, the South African national women’s football team Banyana Banyana stole the limelight from their male counterparts in 2012. Their year was highlighted by a first ever appearance in the Olympic Games.
One of only two African representatives in the elite 12-team field, South Africa was also in the toughest group, which included World Cup holders Japan, world number four Sweden and world number seven Canada.
While Banyana Banyana failed to win any of their games, they showed improvement through the course of the competition. They fell 4-1 to Sweden in their first game, but the goal scored from 45 metres out by Portia Modise was a pearler, possibly the goal of the Games.
In their second match, Canada, who would go on to win the bronze medal after losing to the USA in the semi-finals in extra time, ran out 3-0 winners.
Saving their best for last, Banyana held Japan to a goalless draw in their last outing. The World Cup champions went on to claim silver after going down to the USA in the final.
Africa Women’s Championship
Buoyed by their Olympic experience, Banyana next set their sights on the Confederation of African Football’s African Women’s Championship.
After a loss to hosts Equatorial Guinea in their opening match, South Africa defeated Senegal 1-0 and then romped to a 4-1 victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo to progress to the semi-finals.
That set up a semi-final showdown with defending champions Nigeria, the dominant team on the continent since the advent of the African Women’s Championship, and a team that Banyana had never beaten. Earlier in the year, however, the teams had shared draws home and away, which gave them hope of breaking Nigeria’s hold over them.
A goal from central defender Janine van Wyk secured Banyana the victory they sought and put the team through to the final of the tournament, where they would once again face Equatorial Guinea, who had won the tournament previously when they also hosted it in 2008.
Once again, playing at home proved the charm for the Equatorial Guinea. They scored a goal late in the first half and went on to add three more as South Africa failed to rise to the occasion in the title-deciding contest.
“Falling at the final hurdle is a major disappointment to all involved with Banyana Banyana, particularly after the fine effort put in to record our national team’s first ever win over Nigeria in the semi-finals last week,” commented coach Joseph Mkhonza after the match.
SA Coach of the Year
His efforts were, however, recognised during the tournament when he was named the South African Coach of the Year at the South African Sports Awards.
Prolific striker Portia Modise went on to be nominated for the African Women’s Footballer of the Year Award.
It was a less satisfactory year for the national men’s team, Bafana Bafana. They began the year in 56th place, but dropped to 84th in November.
Coach Pitso Mosimane was axed after a 1-1 draw against Ethiopia in June, opening the way for the most successful coach in the history of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) Gordon Igesund to be appointed in his place.
Without being able to spend much time with his team, Igesund’s results have been mixed this far. But he has had to focus on putting together a squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in a short time. South Africa will host the event in January 2013.
Igesund will, at least, have his players for a decent length camp before then and hopes are high that the advantage of playing at home will see an upsurge in the fortune of Bafana Bafana. Ahead of the tournament, the team dedicated Afcon 2013 to assistant coach Thomas Madidage, who passed away in a car accident on 19 October.
The national under-20 team, “Amajita”, provided cause for optimism with their performance in an eight-nation tournament held in Cape Town in June. The teams that took part in the event had won 11 under-20 World Cup titles between them.
The team took eventual champions Brazil to a penalty shootout in the semi- finals. They went on to finish third after defeating Japan from the spot.
In pool play, five-time World Cup winners and eventual runners-up Argentina beat South Africa 3-1. Amajita responded by downing 2009 World Cup winners Ghana 2-0 and then defeated Nigeria 1-0.
Coach Solly Luvhengo told a press conference afterwards: “When you work so hard, you always deserve to get something from your hard work. You saw us celebrating on the pitch. But we were not celebrating third position, we were celebrating the results of hard work.”
Orlando Pirates were crowned the Premier Soccer League champions for a second year in succession, holding off Moroka Swallows for the title by just two points.
Swallows had been in danger of relegation the previous season, before Gordon Igesund took over. It was on the strength of his success with the club that he became the new Bafana Bafana coach in July.
Swallows’ striker Siyabonga Nomvethe, at the age of 34, enjoyed one of the finest seasons of his career. He was named PSL Footballer of the Year, the Absa Player of the Season and the Players’ Player of the Season.
He also won the Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot award after scoring 20 goals in the league, eight more than the next highest goal scorer.
Swallows captured the MTN8, defeating SuperSport United 2-1 in the final, to lift the title for the first time since 1979. It made for a good start for coach Zeca Marques, who replaced Igesund.
SuperSport United ran out 2-0 winners over their Pretoria rivals, Mamelodi Sundowns, in the final of the Nedbank Cup. It was the first time that the two Pretoria clubs had met in a final.
Bloemfontein Celtic’s fans are recognised as the best in South Africa and they were finally rewarded for their superb backing of the team when it captured the Telkom Knockout Cup for the first time in December.
Celtic edged Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 on a controversial goal by Joel Mogorosi, and it proved to be the final straw for Sundowns’ billionaire boss Patrice Motsepe, who showed coach Johan Neeskens the door. At the time Sundowns were second from bottom of the PSL standings.
Finally, confirmation of South Africa’s successful hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup came in March when South African Football Association (Safa) vice-president Danny Jordaan was appointed a special advisor for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, as well as to work with Alexy Sorokin, the head of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
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