The 3rd of February marks the 20th anniversary since Bafana Bafana lifted the coveted Africa Cup of Nations trophy on home soil with a heart-stopping 2-0 win over Tunisia at a packed FNB Stadium.
With South African Football Association (SAFA)’s Vision 2022 in full throttle, Technical Director and the man who led the country to that historic win, Neil Tovey, says the country was heading back to the top and implored everyone to embrace the ambitious idea.
“When we took to the field, little did we know we were creating a piece of history on the day, history that will define this country for years to come.
“We took to the field with no pressure at all and our intention was just to win the game. We never knew it would take ages to repeat the same feat but with Vision 2022, I am glad and hopeful that we are headed back to the top again,” said Tovey.
The former Bafana Bafana captain said 1996 was the greatest moment of his sporting career and receiving the trophy from the late Father of the Nation, Nelson Mandela, still gives him goose bumps.
“Images of the team receiving the trophy and celebrating the win are still idolised across the continent and the globe and one cannot ask for a better sporting memory.”
Winning coach Clive Barker says memories of 1996 come once in a lifetime and his only regret is the passing on of Sizwe Motaung and John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu.
“I would have loved the two to be part of the 20th anniversary of this great sporting feat as they both played pivotal roles in that achievement. I remember vividly Shoes playing as a man possessed in the semi-final win over Ghana which earned him the man-of-the-match award,” remembers Barker.
“It was tremendous for the country more so with rugby having won the World Cup a year earlier. But it was the first win over Cameroon that set the tone for the entire tournament.
“But all in all, we had a special bunch of players, a group of players that was intent on achieving something for the country. In all this however, we must not forget the role played by the late Nelson Mandela in encouraging the players – he literally was the 12th player during the tournament,” added Barker.
SAFA President Dr Danny Jordaan also recalled the 1996 win and promised the nation that the good times are around the corner once again.
“If one looks at the way our junior teams have performed on the continent, one will believe that Vision 2022 is the bedrock on which future success will be built.
“Our u17 qualified for the World Cup in Chile, our u20 won the Commonwealth Cup in Russia and missed the World Cup in New Zealand by a whisker and u23 are off to the 2016 Rio Olympics together with Banyana Banyana.
“The future is looking bright again and our national teams are beginning to compete with major players on the globe,” said the SAFA President.
Dr Jordaan also revealed that the entire squad, the technical team and support staff will be honoured later this year at a gala dinner. The details will be announced soon.