In 1996, South African made their maiden appearance at Africa’s ultimate soccer showpiece. The debut tournament, however, ended with their finest ever hour – Captain Neil Tovey lifting the trophy after a 2-0 final win against Tunisia.

They opened the tournament by putting to the sword a Cameroon side featuring a young Rigobert Song, beating the West Africans 3-0 in the opening game. Bafana Bafana went on to win their second group game against Angola by a solitary goal, but were quickly brought back down to earth, losing 1-0 to Egypt.

Despite the loss, they still qualified top of their group on goal-difference, avoiding rampant Group B winners Zambia. Their quarter-final opponents were Algeria, who they narrowly beat 2-1.

The dangerous Black Stars of Ghana lay next for Clive Barker and his boys but, inspired by John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu, they thumped the west Africans 3-0 to book their place in the Final.

The rest, as they say, is history as Bafana defeated Tunisia 2-0 thanks to a brace from second half substitute Mark Williams, resulting in the most famous of scenes as Neil Tovey received the trophy from President Nelson Mandela.

Final Line Up: Andre Arendse – Sizwe Motaung, Mark Fish, Neil Tovey (Capt), Lucas Radebe – Doctor Khumalo, Eric Tinkler, Linda Buthelezi (Helman Mkhalele 51st), John Moshoeu – Shaun Bartlett, Phil Masinga (Mark Williams 65th)

Coach: Clive Barker

Ben Baggio Nyombi

Ben Baggio Nyombi is a former journalist with The New Vision and Daily Monitor. He covered the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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