Some joyous moments, some near-misses, some historic records and other proud feats, these are our top 10 moments of the past year, from five to one.
5. Amajita’s World Cup qualification
The national under-20 team qualified for the Fifa World Cup for the first time since the class of 2009 which was coached by Serame Letsoaka. All Amajita needed to do to qualify for the World Cup was finish in one of the top two spots in group B, which featured Sudan and African giants Cameroon and Senegal. They started the competition with an impressive 3-1 victory over Cameroon, thanks to a hat-trick from young sensation Luther Singh. They went down 4-3 to Senegal in the second game, but bounced back in the final group match with a 3-1 win over Sudan. They finished second in the group and booked themselves a spot at the World Cup in South Korea, where they were knocked out in the first round.
4. Masuluke’s Puskas nomination
Baroka FC goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke got to mix it with the best in the world after his heroics for Bakgaga earned him a spot at the prestigious annual FIFA awards. An incredible stoppage time bicycle kick equaliser against Orlando Pirates in a 1-1 Absa Premiership draw earned him a Puskas Goal of the Year nomination, as he made the three-man shortlist and was flown to London for the awards ceremony. He was unfortunately out-voted as the award was handed to Arsenal’s French forward Olivier Giroud, but still flew the flag high for the country on the international stage.
3. Wits’ first league triumph
It had been a long and arduous 96-year wait, but Bidvest Wits finally landed the first top-flight title in their history, staving off fierce competition from holders Sundowns to pip them to the post by three points. Having come second the previous season, the Clever Boys went one better in the 2016/17 campaign, winning 18 of their 30 league matches to claim their first Absa Premiership crown with a game to spare, their 2-0 win over Polokwane City in the penultimate game of the season sparking scenes of wild jubilation at Bidvest Stadium.
2. Downs’ CAF Super Cup success
A spin-off of their 2016 CAF Champions League success, Mamelodi Sundowns earned the right to host the 2017 CAF Super Cup final, where they faced off against CAF Confederation Cup winners and four-time continental club champions TP Mazembe. In a tightly-fought encounter at Lucas Moripe Stadium, a late Ricardo Nascimento penalty resulted in a narrow 1-0 win for the Brazilians, as another African trophy was added to the Chloorkop cabinet.
1. Beating Nigeria
2017 will no doubt be remembered by Bafana Bafana fans for all the wrong reasons, following another failed attempt at qualifying for a World Cup. Yet before that heartache, there was more than enough reason to celebrate as the nation claimed the scalp of continental giants Nigeria in their first 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier, in the Super Eagles’ own back yard. Second-half goals from Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau secured the memorable 2-0 victory in Uyo – the first time South Africa had beaten Nigeria in a competitive match – in what was new coach Stuart Baxter’s first game in charge on his return to the hotseat.