Confed Cup puts SA on soccer map

IT ALL started here two weeks ago - albeit not as explosively - and Ellis Park was again the place to be last night as the Confederations Cup drew to a pulsating end.

The 16th and final match featured the North and South Americans - but a sentimental touch was added when it was announced that the game would be played in honour of fallen Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe - who collapsed and died in the 2003 edition of this tournament in France (see story right).

The closing ceremony was graced by acclaimed artists such as jazz diva Judith Sephuma, Afrikaans pop singer Steve Hofmeyr and Afro-pop king Ntando Bangani.

All teams that competed in the tournament deserve to be saluted for helping it be such a grand success.

The US were a revelation and while they may not yet be looked at as being among the super powers of world football yet - all teams now know they underestimate them at their own peril.

We have witnessed first hand that the famed "American never-say-die spirit" is not just a fable but as American as apple pie.

Last night's protagonists took contrasting journeys to reach the final - with the Brazilians dominating their matches, scoring 10 goals en route to the final, while the Americans had a rocky path, winning their last group match against Egypt to qualify for the semis.

The competition had plenty of moments of brilliance - such as Italy's Guisepe Rossi's goals against the US and Bafana's Katlego Mphela's thunderous free kick against Spain.

But the game of football is made by players - they are who the fans want to see.

On the domestic front, it has been heartening to see our players get their act together and dare we hope that the tide has finally turned for Bafana?

Finally, we hope that certain sectors - here and abroad - who always go on about the crime issue when the 2010 World Cup is mentioned - but are silent when other international sporting events are hosted here - will have something positive to say - at last!