Following the thoroughly disappointing penalty shoot out defeat of Bafana Bafana this past weekend, I had an interchange on twitter with the brilliant Cindy Poluta. I was emotional and was probably sadder than I have been in a while. Cindy pointed out that although I was hurting now, the 1999 Semi final still hurt more. And so I started compiling a list of my biggest sporting disappointments I have endeared as a fan. Each of these moments have induced a tear, which I am not embarrassed to admit.
2001 FA Cup Final
Liverpool 2 (Owen 83, 88) – Arsenal 1 (Ljungberg 73)
In the first FA Cup Final to be held at the Millenium Stadium, Arsenal dominated the first half and although they were unable to take advantage of that domination, they finally capitalised by scoring in through Swedish Style star Ljungberg when he rounded now Ajax Cape Town keeper Sander Westerveld. Arsenal continued dominating after this and should have been 2-0 up through Henry. When Houllier brought on Fowler it appeared inspired and the added impetus was all Liverpool needed to get level through Michael Owen. With the game destined for extra time, Owen popped up again to produce a moment that would break me. Liverpool won the FA Cup
2006 FIFA World Cup Final
Italy 1 (Matterazzi 19) – France 1 (Zidane 7). Italy win 5-3 on penalties
Being an Arsenal supporter I always used to have a soft spot for the French National side. And in 2006 I had added incentive as I had drawn France in the pool at work. And after a remarkable tournament where France beat Spain, Brazil and Portugal on route to the final. France looked like they would dominate after an early goal and missed some great opportunities to push the lead further, but a moment of madness seemed to define the remainder of the game as Zidane’s headbutt was stupid, senseless and robbed France of their primary penalty taker. Italy won, I was bleak.
2006 Champions League Final
Barcelona 2 (Eto’o 76, Belletti 83) 2-1 Arsenal (Campbell 37)
Arsenal had advanced to their first ever Champions League final through an incredible defensive display. They conceded only 2 goals in the 12 games including a record-breaking run of 10 straight clean sheets played with Flamini at left back! That night in Paris then arrived and after a cagey start, the game looked over for Arsenal as Lehmann was sent off and Almunia had to come on for Pires. Arsenal took the lead through Sol Campbell and Henry almost made it two. But with just 15 minutes left Barca fought back and scored through Eto’o before Almunia forgot the lesson all young ladies are taught and did not close his legs allowing Barca their second Champions League title and leaving Arsenal without one.
2009 Currie Cup Final
Blue Bulls 36-24 Free State Cheetahs
The Cheetahs started the season in embarrassing fashion losing four out of four. But Naka Drotske managed to turn things around and the men from Bloemfontein managed to sneak into the Semi Finals through victories against the Bulls, Lions, Province and thumping Griquas away from home. The Cheetahs then emerged victorious in the Shark tank with a last-minute drip goal. The Cheetahs were in a fifth final in 6 years and had beaten the Bulls in their last final at Loftus in 2005. But on the day of the final, the men from Bloem were outclassed by the Pretoria men and ultimately left me disappointed beyond belief.
2001 Wimbledon Fourth Round
Roger Federer defeated Pete Sampras 7-6, 5-7. 6-4, 6-7, 7-5
In 2001 Pistol Pete Sampras was competing at Wimbledon to try to win his eight crown and his fifth in succession. When he got to the fourth round he met 19-year-old Roger Federer. Now not much was know about the Swiss maestro back in those days and all the talk was of how he would meet Tim Henman in the Quarter Final, but Roger would have none of it and beat Pete in a 5 set epic that would make me cry like anyone who watched All Dogs go to Heaven.
2002 FIFA World Cup Group Stage
Spain 3 (Raul 4, 56, Mendieta 45) – 2 South Afica (McCarthy 31, Radebe 53)
Bafana Bafana went to the 2002 FIFA World Cup and performed with utmost class. After going 2-0 down to Paraguay, the boys fought back to draw the game 2-2 through goals from Aaron “Mbazo” Mokoena and an injury time equaliser by Quinton Fortune. We then went on to win our first ever World Cup game with a 1-0 victory against Slovenia through a Nomvethe goal. It all came down to the Spain game (They had already qualified!) and although we fought back twice from behind to level through Radebe and Benni. It all proved too little when Campos and Cuevo scored for Paraguay in the last 15 to knock Bafana out on goals scored.
1999 Rugby World Cup Semi Final
Australia 27-21 South Africa (a.e.t)
There are few losses in World Sport that hurt as much as losing to Australia and in 1999 we had to deal with it twice. In the 1999 World Cup Quarter, Jannie De Beer produced moments of brilliance with his 5 drop goals and South Africa were looking a great possibility to defend their World Cup crown. But in the Semi-Final we met the Aussies and the battle of the boot was underway. As penalties were traded and De Beer was missing drop goals, Aussie led 18-15 in the final minutes. De Beer equallised with an incredibly calm penalty and the game went to extra time. De Beer edged SA ahead 21-18 and Matt Burke levelled. But after being on the end of a victorious drop goal in 1995, the Springboks were on the end of a losing one as Stephen Larkham kicked his first ever drop goal from 48 metres and consigned the Bokke to the Bronze medal match.
1999 Cricket World Cup Semi Final
Australia 213 tied with South Africa 213. Australia advanced on higher league position.
The 1999 Cricket World Cup started like a house on fire for South Africa as they won four out of 5 games, only losing to Zim. South Africa beat Pakistan and New Zealand, but a loss to Australia meant that we would play the Aussies again in the Semi-finals with them finishing ahead of us on net run rate. So to the semi and a fine display by Shaun Pollock in taking 5-36 meant Australia were limited to a very attainable 214 for victory. SA’s reply did not start off great falling to 61-4 even losing Hansie to a caught off his foot. Kallis and Rhodes then put on 80 runs and at 145-4 we looked great. This was quickly 183-7. 31 to win, 3 wickets in hand 25 balls and Zulu still batting. 198-9 then. 16 to win. We got down to the last over and Zulu facing, needing 9 to win. Damien Fleming bowls, 4, repeat. 1 to win off 4 balls. Dot ball.1 to win off 3. Its hit, they are off, no wait, only one of them is off, Donald doesn’t run, he gets run out, we are out, I kick my parents heater, dent it, cry, get calmed down by my dad, cry again. repeat. The greatest disappointment in my sport watching career and it hurt just typing about it. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get a tissue.