The year was 2010. Across the country, the excitement was palpable as international athletes took to the field for the first match in the FIFA World Cup.

A decade ago today, the World Cup kicked off. Every South African remembers this time when hope was electric, when we felt closer than ever. The pride of being the first African nation to host this international sporting event seemed to overtake everything.

The day before the opening match, eager fans at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto were treated to the 3-hour Kick-Off Celebration Concert, which featured artists like Alicia Keyes, The Black Eyed Peas, Freshlyground, The Parlotones and K’Naan, who sang his famous song ‘Waving Flag’.

Of course, Shakira was also there to perform the event’s official song, ‘Waka Waka’.

June 11, 2010 started with the opening ceremony, a 30-minute extravaganza with a cast of 1 581 world-class artists, dancers, musicians and performers. Taking to the stage were renowned artists like Hugh Masekela, Soweto Gospel Choir and Femi Kuti.

After the concert came the first match at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, between South Africa and Mexico. Siphiwe Tshabalala told the SA Football Journalist Association that this match was an emotional one for him.

“I was really touched and inspired by the crowd and the support as well and I still remember the moment I sang the national anthem, I sang it with pride and teary eyes as well.”

It was in this heart-racing match that Tshabalala scored the now famous goal that has gone down in World Cup history.

“It was a big stage. The whole world was watching. One had to bring his A-game,” Tshabalala said.

“It was a perfect transition. Perfect run. You know the weight on the ball and the speed from KG (Kagisho Dikgacoi) was perfect. My first touch was good and I also felt it when the ball left my boot that it was definitely going to go in,” he added.

Relive the iconic moment here:

South Africa was eliminated in the first round of the tournament. Spain went on to win the Cup, defeating the Netherlands 1-0 and becoming the only national team since 1978 to win a World Cup after losing a game in the group stage.

While 2020 is very different to 2010, it’s special to reminisce on moments that truly shaped South African history. It helps serve as a reminder that good things have happened, and will happen again.

Picture: Twitter / Siphiwe Tshabalala

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