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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 May, 2004, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
SA's road to 2010
SA fans
South Africans are passionate about football
South Africa, once a pariah among the world's sporting nations because of apartheid, has made a long walk from isolation to become the host of the first World Cup to be held in Africa.

The quest by a country fanatical about football to get the nod from Fifa, became all the more zealous following the huge disappointment of losing out to Germany in 2006.

During the last decade, South African football has become a mirror for society, having citizens of all races and creeds participate in the sport.

Before, the game was divided and a host of acronyms of different racial bodies became the symbol of the country's policies of segregation.

FASA was for whites, SAIFA for Indians, SABFA for blacks and SACFA for coloureds (mix-race).

Put in place in 1948 with the advent of apartheid, interaction between the different football bodies did become one of the rare meeting grounds between different race groups for the next 40 years.

Following a black student uprising in 1976 in Soweto township, South Africa was kicked out of Fifa and the beautiful game was plunged headlong into isolation for the next 15 years.

Neil Tovey holds aloft Nations Cup in 1996
South Africa won the 1996 African Nations Cup on home soil
In the townships however, football remained extremely popular, despite limited resources.

During matches at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, millions of fans pitched up religiously every week to watch various teams do battle.

As apartheid started to dismantle in 1990, football also took some progressive steps.

In 1991, the four foundations divided along racial lines founded the umbrella South African Football Association (SAFA) as one body.

Reintegration into FIFA came in 1992, and with it, South African football's light started burning bright again.

In 1995, Orlando Pirates won the African Champions League. A year later, South Africa lifted the 1996 African Cup of Nations on home turf.

Quickly the dream was born to become the first country on the continent to stage a World Cup.

A bid was put in place for the 2006 World Cup but lost in controversial circumstances to Germany.

"It is a great deception but next time we'll be the winners," South African President Thabo Mbeki declared to a depressed nation a few hours later.

That prediction became a reality on Saturday 15 May, 2004 in Zurich.

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15 May 04  |  African
SA World Cup delight
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Mission accomplished
15 May 04  |  African

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