A decade ago a team went into battle in the opening match of the biggest football tournament the country has ever hosted - the 2010 Fifa World Cup. And to say that they deserved their selection would be an understatement. Photo: EPA/Achim Schdeidemann
A decade ago a team went into battle in the opening match of the biggest football tournament the country has ever hosted - the 2010 Fifa World Cup. And to say that they deserved their selection would be an understatement. Photo: EPA/Achim Schdeidemann

The legends who opened the 2010 World Cup for South Africa

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Jun 13, 2020

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A decade ago a team went into battle in the opening match of the biggest football tournament the country has ever hosted - the 2010 Fifa World Cup. And to say that they deserved their selection would be an understatement. Here’s why:

ITUMELENG KHUNE

It had been three years back, 2007, that Khune made his debut for the Kaizer Chiefs senior team. But those who had followed his progress since then could tell that he was destined for greatness. So being selected as the World Cup No. 1 was a no-brainer.

SIBONISO GAXA

Loyalty is key. Having made his national team debut in June 2005, Gaxa knew the ins and outs of Bafana. But it wasn’t his status that made him get the nod from the technical team. Instead his astute performances for Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United, where he won a domestic treble, made him stand out.

LUCAS THWALA

Thwala was, arguably, the best left back in the country following his exploits at Orlando Pirates. Not only could you bet on him for his defensive abilities but his sweet left foot also earmarked him as a set-piece specialist.

BONGANI KHUMALO

Fresh from winning his third successive league title with SuperSport, Khumalo had all the right qualities to start for Bafana in a major tournament in the heart of defence. After all, having been guided by an astute coach such as Gavin Hunt in the last three seasons, few would have doubted the experience he brought to the team.

AARON MOKOENA

Having plied his trade abroad for more than a decade with stints in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and England, and having made the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations squad, there was nobody better suited as a leader than Mokoena.

STEVEN PIENAAR

He was the crème de la crème of South African football. During his time in the Netherlands at Ajax Amsterdam, Pienaar started to pick up the South African flag. By the time he became a household name in England through his exploits at Everton, he was invaluable for the national team.

TEKO MODISE

For two seasons in a row - 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 - the Pirates stalwart was crowned as the hottest property in local football, becoming the first player to win the Footballer of the Season gong for two seasons in a row. Well, it’s safe to say he was the standard bearer of the PSL.

RENEILWE LETSHOLONYANE

Arguably the best dazzling midfielder in local football since joining Kaizer Chiefs from Jomo Cosmos in July 2007, Letsholonyane’s ability to integrate the defence and attack made him stand out. He won possession and was a supplier at both club and international level.

KAGISHO DIKGACOI

A rare breed in South African football. Dikgacoi knew what to do and when. It was impressive that his defensive and passing accuracy for a club such as Lamontville Golden Arrows, who did not enjoy the respect they deserved at the time, led him to the dizzy heights of cementing his place in the team.

SIPHIWE TSHABALALA

Having made history by becoming the first player to represent Bafana while still playing for then National First Division side Free State Stars, it was inevitable that Tshabalala was going to be one of the main men for Bafana. But it was after his exploits for Chiefs in the subsequent years that he ticked all the right boxes to don the green and yellow jersey of Bafana.

KATLEGO MPHELA

Arguably the hottest No. 9 in Mzansi in recent seasons, it was only befitting that Mphela led Bafana’s attacking contingent. After all, this was a man who had scored a cracker of a free kick against Spain in the Confederation Cup.

@MihlaliBaleka


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