South Africa claimed their second sporting title within five days thanks to a 4-3 penalty shootout victory against Zambia in the Cosafa Castle Cup final on Wednesday.
The success of Bafana Bafana following a goalless draw in Bloemfontein came five days after the Springboks lifted the Rugby World Cup with a 15-6 triumph over England in Paris.
Many success-starved South African football followers were hoping the Boks would inspire a national football team that won the Southern Africa championship just once in 10 previous attempts.
And a Bafana side lacking their Europe-based professionals rose to the occasion, hitting the woodwork twice against opponents who settled for a shootout long before full-time.
The penalty contest went the 10-kick distance, with livewire midfielder Teko Modise fittingly converting the kick that brought the Castle Cup back to South Africa after a four-year absence.
Israel-bound Thembinkosi ”Terror” Fanteni, Bevan Fransman and Simphiwe Tshabalala also converted spot kicks for Bafana after the first from Brett Evans was saved by Kennedy Mweene.
Ian Bakala, Kampamba Chintu and Mweene were the successful Zambian penalty takers while Rainford Kalaba had his attempt saved by Moeneeb Josephs and James Chamanga blazed over.
Goalkeeper Josephs, who did not have a serious save to make during regulation time, was a fired-up captain, even resorting to cricket-style sledging against the Zambian penalty takers.
South Africa, seeking revenge for a 3-1 home loss to Zambia in a 2008 African Nations Cup qualifier last month, attacked from the kick-off and Mweene saved from Tshabalala within 45 seconds.
Bamuza Sono, son of South African football legend Jomo, wasted a good early chance, firing tamely at Mweene after a superb Fanteni pass split the defence.
Modise, scorer of all three South African goals en route to the final, was out of luck midway through the first half as his free kick struck the crossbar and flew over.
Fanteni was deprived by the woodwork 13 minutes into the second half as he unleashed a shot from outside the penalty area that left Mweene helpless, only for the ball to rebound off the crossbar.
Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe have won the richest regional national team competition in Africa three times each and South Africa twice since its inception in 1997. — AFP