Fans of the beautiful game were beginning to believe the football gods had turned against them.
In the last 12 months, South Africa has lost its Fifa seat while Bafana Bafana blew hot and cold.
Still, nothing could have prepared soccer lovers for the humiliating snub fellow Africans dished out to the once darling of the continental game.
Safa received just one vote to Egypt’s 16 in the two-horse race to host the prestigious tournament.
There is nothing more painful than being rejected by your own. It came as a shock that the southern African representatives opted to throw their lot with the North, East and West African blocks when they dumped South Africa and voted for Egypt .
A question that begs for an answer is: What has Safa done to anger CAF and Fifa leadership?
Rewind the clock a few years. Anyone worth their salt in football was a friend and went out of their way to ensure that South Africa had the proud honour of staging the first World Cup finals on African soil.
Sadly this fall from grace mirrors the state of the game in the country. Bafana Bafana play to half empty stadiums and even the most ardent fan struggles to remember the last time the national team qualified for a major tournament. The common denominator about soccer fans is that they take disappointment badly.
I am certainly no different.
However, thanks to Banyana Banyana, we can still afford to crack a smile and walk tall.
Just hours after Egypt walloped our Afcon 2019 bid team 16-1, Banyana came to our rescue with not one but three well deserved CAF Awards.
Banyana coach Desiree Ellis was named Africa’s woman coach of the year at a ceremony in Dakar, Senegal. Ellis was crowned in front of some of the best names to have kicked a ball such as Liberia President George Weah, former Cameroon captain Samuel Eto’o, the magnificent Liverpool duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Ellis is the first coach to guide Banyana Banyana to the World Cup finals.
There was more to come.
Thembi Kgatlana took it a notch higher when she beat a string of men and women players to bring home the best goal award for that cracking strike she unleashed against Nigeria at the women’s Afcon in Ghana last year.
The battered South Africa football image was restored when Kgatlana bagged the coveted 2018 Women’s Player of the Year award - ahead of the Nigerian duo of Asisat Oshoala and Francisca Ordega.
To bring the striker’s achievement into perspective, she becomes only the second South African to win this accolade. Banyana’s Noko Matlou was the first in 2008.
Kgatlana, who plies her trade in the USA for Houston Dash, was a revelation in Banyana colours at the Afcon finals last year. She won three Woman of the Match awards on the trot, and scored five goals to be crowned player of the tournament.
Well done to Ellis and Kgatlana.
I would take the three CAF Awards ahead of winning the hosting rights any day.
Moyo is News Editor at The Star.