The tenth anniversary of SAFA
The year 2001 marked the tenth anniversary of SAFA. During this period the Association made a rapid and successful transition from a group of fragmented and isolated organisations to that of a single united and dynamic participant in world football, both on and off the field. South Africa’s return to world football arenas was perhaps best exemplified by the performance of the national team.
By July Bafana Bafana had qualified for their fourth successive African Cup of Nations Finals and second World Cup Finals – a unique distinction given the country’s short spell in world football.
After a decade in international football Bafana Bafana had played against almost fifty FIFA members from all six of its confederations and for the last five years had consistently appeared in the top 20 of the FIFA World Rankings. As part of SAFA’s ten year anniversary celebrations a national invitation team played against a combined English Ambassadors.
The national U-20 team competed for the second time in the African Youth Championship Finals where they drew with Cameroon, lost to Egypt and the host nation Ethiopia in the group stages.
The U-17 national team competed in the 2001 EB Futebol International Tournament in Portugal in June against Austria, Portugal and the USA where they finished third overall after beating Austria,losing to the USA and drawing with the hosts.
Another first for African football occurred in South Africa this year when the Confederation of African Football held its inaugural Awards Ceremony in Johannesburg. The popular annual Soccer Expo was also staged in Johannesburg.
Santos provided a major upset on the domestic scene when they beat Mamelodi Sundowns to win the BobSave Super Bowl, and Orlando Pirates finished at the top of the Castle Premiership.