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In light of the global international football break, in which players have returned home to represent their countries in various continental fixtures, the time seems perfect to reminisce on the South Africa 2010 World Cup, which is arguably the proudest football moment for Africa.

The 2010 World Cup, otherwise regarded as South Africa 2010, was the 19th FIFA World Cup, the world championship between 32 men’s national football teams. It was held in South Africa from 11 June to 10 July 2010. In 2004, FIFA selected South Africa to become the first African country to host the FIFA World Cup.

The matches were played in 10 stadiums in 9 cities around South Africa, with the final being played at the Soccer CityJohannesburg. The process for qualification for the tournament, included all countries eligible under FIFA standards, except South Africa who qualified automatically as host nation.

In the first round all teams were divided to eight groups of four teams where team played with other three teams in group. Two best teams from each group qualify to knockout stage where teams need to win 3 matches to reach the final.

Many of Africa’s big teams including the host Bafana Bafana of South Africa, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, Nigerian Super Eagles, and Ivory Coast, with the exception of the Black Stars of Ghana, all performed averagely at the tournament with most of them crashing out in the group stages.

Only Ghana made it through to the Quarterfinals which they lost to Uruguay. Ghana’s relative success marked the first and only time an African team had made it so far in the history of the World Cup.


Though the decision had already bee made by the international body in charge of the World Cup tournaments, FIFA, to select South Africa as the hosts of the 2010 World Cup event, it did not begin to cause a serious continental buzz until the final build up to the tournament.

Although it wasn’t the first time a FIFA tournament was coming to Africa (for example, Nigeria had hosted the U-17 World Cup the previous year 2009), this was the biggest FIFA tournament and the singular most popular sporting event on the planet, and it had come to Africa!

The tournament was indeed a great marketing strategy for the organizers and the hosts, as Africa being the second largest continent in the world, meant that a record-high number of people would be viewing the tournament, and it was also a major opportunity for foreigners and “Diasporean” Africans to visit Africa.

The World Cup coming to Africa was a source of huge pride to the continent and to black people all over the world as the significance of such a phenomenon transcended socio-cultural endowment and exposed Africa for its rich and colorful background.

The South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup further opened doors of global inter-commercial and inter-cultural transactions, and just like the 2010 Shakira song released as the official theme song for the event implied, it was indeed time for Africa.


The 2010 World Cup featured 32 different men’s international football teams, from across several different confederations, all vying for the coveted World Cup prize.

The tournament was divided into the Group Stage(s): in which the teams were divided into eight groups with four teams in each group. The groups were named Group A through Group H.

Each team in a group played all the other teams in their group one time. That means there were six games in each group and 48 games in the first round. The top two teams from each group in this round advanced (were allowed to play) in the next round, named the Round of 16.

The Knockout Stage(s) included the Round Of 16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals and the Final stages. This was the major highlight of the competition as it was the point where only one team from each match would go through to the next round, and ultimately this stage would produce the eventual winner of the tournament.

Host nation South Africa, defending champions Italy and finalists  of the previous (2006) World Cup, all failed to make it through. It was the first time in World Cup history that the host nation did not make it to the knockout stage. 

In the final, Spain, the European champions, won the tournament after defeating Netherlands 1-0 in extra time with Andrés Iniesta‘s goal in the 116th minute. Spain got their first World Cup title and they also became the first European team won the World Cup outside Europe. They also became the first team to win the World Cup after losing their first match.

It is unclear whether the World Cup tournament will ever make its way back to Africa, or when it will, but the important thing is that it did come once, and it brought a sense of pride and respect to the African continent and the African people.

By Oluwamayowa Akinyemi

Oluwamayowa Akinyemi

Oluwamayowa Akinyemi is a digital and web content developer with experience in web content development and management as well as research and writing. He is an avid reader of random subject matters and a sucker for movies and video games. He is also passionate about youth empowerment and is a global affairs analyst and enthusiast.