What went down in history this year: Zola Doda looks back to 2013′s most exciting and important soccer moments.
The Nigerian Super Eagles, led by Stephen Keshi, won the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 1994 on South African soil in February, with the host nation getting knocked in the quarter-finals.
In 1994, Nigeria won the Afcon by beating Zambia in the Final, but they pulled out of the 1996 edition in South Africa following a political spat between the governments of former presidents General Sani Abacha and Nelson Mandela.
The 2013 tournament also saw surprise package Cape Verde reaching the quarter-finals and Burkina Faso advancing to the Final, where they lost 1-0 to the Super Eagles.
Kaizer Chiefs win The Double
Kaizer Chiefs won their first League and Cup Double since 1992.
After the club failed to ‘reclaim the glory’ days in three years under Serbian coach Vladimir Vermezovic, they appointed Stuart Baxter in 2012.
And in his first season, the well-travelled Englishman, and former Bafana Bafana coach, did not disappoint, helping Amakhosi win the League as well as the Nedbank Cup.
Benni McCarthy calls it a day
After 17 years in top-flight football, former Bafana Bafana striker Benni McCarthy took everyone by surprise when he announced his retirement.
McCarthy started his professional career with Seven Stars in Cape Town and rose to prominence during the 1997 CAF Youth Championships, where he led Shakes Mashaba’s team to the Final.
Following his success with the youth national teams, a move to Ajax Amsterdam was followed by spells at Celta Vigo, FC Porto, Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United.
In 2004, McCarthy became the first South African to win the Uefa Champions League when Jose Mourinho’s Porto beat AS Monaco 3-0 in the Final.
At international level, McCarthy appeared at two Fifa World Cups, in France 1998 and 2002 Korea/Japan.
Danny Jordaan elected Safa president
Experienced football administrator Danny Jordaan was elected the new Safa president at the association’s elective congress held in September.
Jordaan, who replaced Kirsten Nematandani, beat Mandla Mazibuko for the hotseat.
Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, Lucas Nhlapo and Elvis Shishana were elected as the three vice-presidents.
Bafana crashes out of the World Cup
After a campaign that kicked off with a draw at home to Ethiopia, Bafana Bafana failed to qualify for the World Cup for the third time.
The campaign was led by three coaches – Pitso Mosimane, who was fired after the first match; Steve Komphela, who took over on interim basis for the second match, which ended in a draw against Botswana; and Gordon Igesund.
Igesund kicked off his qualifying campaign with back-to-back wins against the Central African Republic in March, but after the team lost the next match away Ethiopia the campaign looked all but over.
But world governing body Fifa threw Bafana Bafana a lifeline when they docked Ethiopia three points in their match against Botswana. Bafana went to the last match against Botswana needing a win, while also hoping that CAR beat Ethiopia.
But when the Ethiopians won the last match the dream was over for Bafana Bafana.
Comitis brothers leave Ajax
After a persistent family feud threatened to bring down Ajax Cape Town recently, CEO George and honorary life chairman John Comitis decided to sell their shares in the club, with Ari Efstathiou taking over.
Ajax was formed in 1999 by Rob Moore and John Comitis with the amalgamation of two Cape Town-based teams, Seven Stars and Cape Town Spurs, at a time when AFC Ajax expanded their worldwide talent-feeder network to South Africa.
Over the past season the club has borne the brunt of in-fighting between the Comitis and the Efstathiou families who own Cape Town Stars, the company that holds 49 percent of Ajax Cape Town in conjunction with 51 percent majority shareholder Ajax Amsterdam.
In their years the Comitises were in charge of the team, Ajax won the Rothmans, Cup, Absa Cup and Telkom Knockout.
Platinum Stars win their second and third ever trophy
After finishing the season with their highest ever finish – second – Platinum Stars beat Orlando Pirates in the MTN Final in September to win only their second ever trophy in the PSL.
Allan Freese’s side brushed aside Free State Stars and Bidvest Wits to reach the Final, and after the match ended at 1-1 after extra-time, Dikwena clinched the Cup on penalties.
Pirates’ composure completely deserted them in the shoot-out, with Rooi Mahamutsa, Ndumiso Mabena and Lennox Bacela all missing to hand Dikwena the trophy.
Stars and Pirates met again in the Telkom Knockout this weekend, with Mogakolodi Ngele scoring two great goals for a come-for-behind victory over the Buccaneers. It was Dikwena’s first Cup Double – and a shattering third cup final defeat for Pirates this season.
Khune’s ‘Operation vat alles’
PSL Footballler of the Year, PSL Players’ Player of the Season, PSL Goalkeeper of the Season, SA Sports Award Sportsman of the Year – in 2013 Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper truly had the world at his hands.
His performance led Kaizer Chiefs to the League and Cup Double and, in the national team, he has been the most outstanding player this year. Since making his professional debut, 2013 is by the best year in the Amakhosi goalkeeper’s career.
Orlando Pirates reach Champions League Final
Orlando Pirates reached the CAF Champions League Final for the second time in their history, only to lose to Al Ahly in the Final.
This year the Buccaneers returned to their spiritual home of Orlando Stadium for their home matches, although they kicked off their campaign in the backwaters of Comoros.
After two matches against Djabal and Zanaco, Roger de Sa’s men came up against TP Mazembe of DRC in what was the toughest match of the competition.
A win guaranteed the team passage to the group stages, where they were pitted against Egyptian giants Zamalek and Al Ahly as well as Leopards from Congo.
The Buccaneers then took the competition by storm beating Al Ahly 3-0 away from home and putting Zamalek to the sword with a 4-1 win at home.
After knocking out Esperance from Tunisia on goal difference, the Buccaneers reached the Final. But they had to settle for silver when Al Ahly – led by Mohamed Aboutrika – ultimately proved too much for them.