On this day 15 May 2004 (Exactly 15 years ago) South Africa became the first African nation chosen to play host to FIFA World World Cup.
The 2010 World Cup was awarded to South Africa over Morocco and Egypt by the Executive Committee of FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, in a vote in Zurich.
Tunisia dropped out of the bidding a day before the election , and Libya, another long-shot candidate, was deemed unqualified.
Agence France-Presse reported that Libya had withdrawn after saying it would not allow Israel to participate if the Israelis qualified for the 2010 tournament.
The choice of South Africa to play host to the world’s most popular sporting event represented a drastic shift in the perception of the country as it celebrates a decade of democracy.
From 1964 until 1992, South Africa was banned from participating both in the World Cup and the Olympics because of the discriminatory policies of apartheid.
Since then, South Africa has assumed a prominent role in staging major international sporting events.
It played host to the 1995 rugby World Cup and the 2003 cricket World Cup. That experience, coupled with the availability of nine finished stadiums, gave South Africa a technical advantage over Morocco, its most serious rival.
Some believed that crime and AIDS in South Africa might give Morocco an edge, but South Africa prevailed, 14 to 10, on the first ballot, with Egypt receiving no votes.
Immediately, celebrations erupted across South Africa, according to wire service reports.
“We can all applaud Africa,” Joseph S. Blatter, president of FIFA, said in making yesterday’s announcement. ”The victor is football. The victor is Africa.’
On this day 15 May 1970 (Exactly 49 years ago) South Africa was expelled from the International Olympic Committee(IOC)
On this day 15 May 2005 (Exactly 14 years ago) Kumasi Asante Kotoko beat their arch-rivals Accra Hearts of Oak 3-1 in a tension-packed Premier League match at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.
Kotoko scored all their goals in the first half through Douglas Nkrumah who scored in the 15th minute when he connected home a free kick taken by Nana Arhin Duah.
With Kotoko stoutly controlling the midfield led by Kwabena Dodzie it came as no surprise when he increased the tally in the 21st minute from Arhin Duah’s cross.
Kotoko playing with more vim and determination, they continued to pile the pressure on Hearts who could not find their rhythm.
Hearts, sensing danger replaced Prince Tagoe with Joe Louis in the 42nd minute but this could not deter Kotoko from scoring their third goal in the 43rd minute through Dan Acquah who headed home a free kick again from Arhin Duah.
On resumption of the second half, Hearts substituted keeper Sammy Adjei who looked jittery for Sannie Mohammed in the 47th minute and from then turned the tide in their favour making some incursions into the vital area of Kotoko but could not find the net.
Kotoko brought on Edmund Owusu-Ansah for George Yamoah in the 64th minute.
Hearts were still slightly on top and came to scoring in the 67th minute but Bernard Don-Bortey’s header was parried to corner by Kotoko’s keeper, Eric Nii Baah but the resultant kick was wasted.
With their pride at stake, Hearts sent in Amankwaah Mireku for Lawrence Adjei two minutes later to strengthen their defence when Kotoko continued to pin them to their half.
Joe Louis who brought some bite into the attack of Hearts combined beautifully with Don-Bortey and Mireku and piled pressure on the Kotoko defence and managed to score a consolation goal in the 72nd minute when Mireku headed home a well taken corner kick by Don-Bortey.
Hearts at this stage dominated the game and attacked from all angles and this forced Kotoko to bring in Ali Ouadrago for Kwabena Dodzie in the 86th minute to thwart the attack of Hearts.
Kotoko mounted a last minute onslaught but they could not increase the score line until referee Atikese whistled for the end of the proceedings.
On this day 15 May 2007 (Exactly 12 years ago) Chelsea fans voted Michael Essien as Chelsea Player of the Year for his contributions in the 2006–07 season, becoming the first African to receive the honour.
His late dramatic equalising goal against Arsenal was also voted as Chelsea Goal of the Season for 2006–07.
On this day 15 May 2002 (Exactly 17 years ago) Real Madrid beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at the Hampden Park in Glasgow to win the 10th edition of the UEFA Champions League.
Real Madrid’s Spanish forward Raúl opened the scoring in the eighth minute, but, five minutes later, Brazilian defender Lúcio levelled the scores with a header that beat goalkeeper César.
But in the 45th minute, one of the greatest goals in UEFA Champions League history was scored; Zinedine Zidane received a high, arcing cross from Roberto Carlos on the edge of the penalty area, volleying a leftfooted shot left-h the top corner.
In the 68th minute, César was injured and had to be replaced by 21-year-old Iker Casillas.
With the young Casillas between the posts, Real Madrid managed to hold their ground against a very attacking Leverkusen side, until the final whistle from referee Urs Meier.
On this day 15 May 1963 (Exactly 56 years ago) Tottenham Hotspur of England won the 3rd edition of the European Cup Winner’s Cup against Atlético Madrid at Rotterdam
Tottenham won the match 5–1 thanks to goals by Jimmy Greaves (2), John White and Terry Dyson (2). Tottenham’s victory made them the first British team to win a major European trophy.
On this day 15 May 1985 (Exactly 34 years ago) Everton of England won the 25th edition of the European Cup Winner’s Cup against Rapid Wien of Austria at the Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam
Everton, which dominated throughout, won the match 3–1 thanks to goals by Andy Gray, Trevor Steven and Kevin Sheedy.
Everton were unable to defend the trophy: as league champions they would have entered the 1985–86 European Cup.
Yet, they were not permitted to play in either competition following the actions of rival Liverpool fans at the Heysel Stadium, which saw all English clubs banned from European competitions.
On this day 15 May 1991 (Exactly 28 years ago) Manchester United of England won the 31th edition of the European Cup Winner’s Cup against FC Barcelona 2-1 at the Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam
The match ended 2–1 to Manchester United on the night, with both United goals coming from former Barça forward Mark Hughes.
Ronald Koeman scored a consolation goal for Barça towards the end of the game, but it was not enough to prevent the Red Devils from becoming the first English side to win a European competition since they were banned in 1985.
It was also United’s first European title in 23 years, since the European Cup in 1968.
On this day 15 May 2010 (Exactly 9 years ago) Chelsea overcame a resilient Portsmouth side, who made a mockery of their pre-match billing as lambs to the slaughter, to win a dramatic FA Cup final 1-0 and clinch their first League and Cup Double.
Didier Drogba maintained his remarkable knack of scoring at Wembley Stadium with the winner from a 59th minute free-kick after Chelsea had hit the woodwork five times in the first half while Frank Lampard missed a late penalty.
In an astonishing match of twists and turns, Portsmouth’s Kevin-Prince Boateng, who had scored from the spot in the semi-final at Wembley, saw his 56th minute penalty saved
The triumph gave Chelsea a second straight FA Cup final victory, after they beat Everton the previous season, and was a third success in four seasons for the west London side.
It was Chelsea’s sixth FA Cup triumph and fifth in 13 years as they became the seventh English club to win the double and the first team since Arsenal in 2003 to retain the trophy.
STORY: GEORGE MAHAMAH