The year 2018 had plenty of highlights for South African football.
We take a look at five great soccer moments in 2018.
1) Banyana Banyana reach the 2018 Women Afcon final and qualify for their first World Cup
The year ended on a high, and again it was the women’s national team flying the flag of success for South Africa.
They sensationally beat 10-time winners Nigeria 1-0 in their opening match of the Africa Women Cup of Nations, and then twice victors Equatorial Guinea 7-1 before drawing against Zambia to cruise through the group stages.
Banyana eased past Mali 2-0 in the semifinals to seal a place at France 2019 – their first World Cup qualification – then succumbed on penalties against Nigeria in the December 1 final.
2) Baroka FC win the first trophy in their history in the Telkom Knockout
And they did it by beating the mighty Orlando Pirates, no less.
Wedson Nyirenda and his men had to overcome Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits to reach their first cup final.
They had to quell a Bucs reduced to 10 men, but fighting mightily to end a four-year trophy drought and earn coach Milutin Sredojevic his first silverware at the club, as Pirates fought back from a goal down twice to 2-2, and then penalties.
Baroka’s celebrations afterwards were epic.
3) Assistant referee Zakhele Siwela officiates at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
Again, Bafana Bafana were not there, and again South Africa continued its proud record of match officials representing the country on the world’s greatest football stage.
Siwela and his officiating team of Zambia referee Janny Sikazwe and fellow assistant referee Jerson Emiliano dos Santos of Angola oversaw Belgium’s 3-0 Group G win against Panama in Sochi, then Poland’s 1-0 Group H victory over Japan in Volgograd.
4) Mamelodi Sundowns win their eighth Absa Premiership title
The glory keeps coming for South Africa’s most successful team of the Premier Soccer League era, who have enjoyed their best purple patch yet in the carnation of Pitso Mosimane’s current winning machine.
Percy Tau was supreme as the league’s joint-top scorer steering the Brazilians to their eighth title, and Kaizer Chiefs (four championships in the PSL era) and Pirates (also four) have a lot of catching up to do now.
5) Benni McCarthy becomes South Africa’s highest-qualified coach
Bafana Bafana’s all-time top scorer and South Africa’s only player to win the Uefa Champions League became the first coach from this country to earn his Uefa Pro Licence – the highest qualification in coaching – days shy of his 41st birthday in November.
Just over a month earlier McCarthy had won his first trophy as a head coach at 40 – the MTN8, on penalties in the final over SuperSport United – in just his second season in charge of Cape Town City.
It is currently also just the former Blackburn Rovers and FC Porto striker’s second season as a head coach, so it’s an exciting career trajectory.