Amaglug-glug players from 2000 have moved on since retiring
Many of the stars fell on the wayside and never reciprocated their talent
In 2000‚ coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba took an U23 side‚ better known as Amaglugglug‚ to the Sydney Summer Olympics in Australia in what was the first participation at the games by a national South African football team.
Though SA failed to get out of the group‚ they notably stunned Brazil‚ that included Ronaldinho‚ 3-1 in Brisbane just over 20 years ago, through goals by Quinton Fortune‚ Siyabonga Nomvethe and Steve Lekoelea.
Some of the players at the tournament who went on to become global superstars include Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo of Italy‚ Celestine Babayaro of Nigeria‚ Xavi and
Carles Puyol of Spain‚ Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon and Hidetoshi Nakata of Japan.
We went back to the files to find out how Amaglug-glug lined up against Brazil on that memorable day in Brisbane and what those players are up to now.
Emile Baron was one of the few South Africans based overseas at that time with Lillestrøm in Norway. He was forced to retire in 2013 after a leg injury while at Bidvest Wits, but has since made a full recovery and is looking for a coaching job.
Fabian “Fabulous” McCarthy partnered Matthew Booth in central defence and they stood their ground against one of the best attacking units at the tournament. He does coaching clinics and is a television pundit.
As captain of the team‚ Matthew Booth led from the front. He enjoyed a successful career in SA and Russia and now sits on the disciplinary committee of the PSL and Drug Free Sports SA. He is a member of the SA Football Legends and is also a television pundit.
David Kannemeyer played at left-back where he was up against the speedy and tricky Brazilian wingers. He retired having played for teams such as Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns and he recently had coaching stints with lower division sides Magic FC and Nova Nacional FC.
Aaron “Mbazo’ Mokoena was used either at central defence or right-back by coach Shakes Mashaba. He was at Ajax Amsterdam in Holland at the time. He had a long career that took him to Germany‚ Belgium and England. He runs his own football academy in the Vaal and is a businessman.
Quinton Fortune already had a reputation because he was playing for Manchester United and he scored the opening goal with a thunderous free-kick.
He is now the first team coach at Reading FC in England.
Abram ‘Wire’ Nteo had the thankless job in the heart of the midfield as a defensive midfield. After retirement‚ he went into coaching with Bloemfontein Celtic juniors and is assistant coach to John Maduka.
Jabu ‘Shuffle’ Pule Mahlangu was a key member of the attacking force of the team but his career was blighted by problems off the field. He is an ambassador for SuperSport United‚ a television pundit and businessman.
Delron Buckley went about his business quietly but effectively. He called it quits after a successful career in Germany and Switzerland and now runs a soccer school in KwaZuluNatal.
One of coach Shakes Mashaba’s favourites‚ Nkosinathi Nhleko, was replaced early in the first half by Siyabonga Nomvethe. He retired after a journeyman career that took him to Norway‚ USA and Sweden and is now involved in mining.
The most recognisable player in the team‚ Benni McCarthy, was based in Spain with Celta Vigo.
When he retired after a glorious career with Ajax Amsterdam‚ Celta Vigo‚ Porto‚ Blackburn‚ West Ham and Orlando Pirates‚ he went into coaching.
He holds a Uefa pro coaching licence and coached Cape Town City where he won the MTN8 trophy. As a player‚ he remains the only South African player to win the Uefa Champions League with Porto in 2004.
Substitute Nkosinathi Nhleko scored the brilliant header that increased SA’s lead to 2-1 in the second half and at the age of 42 he played for Uthongathi in the GladAfrica Championship last season.
Having come on as a first half substitute‚ Siyabonga Nomvethe twisted his ankle in the closing stages and was replaced by Matsau. Matsau now coaches Sporting FC in the SAB League in his hometown of Allanridge near Welkom.
Steve ‘Chippa’ Lekoelea put matters beyond doubt on the stroke of full time for what remains one of SA’s most memorable football moments.
He is involved in coaching at junior level in his hometown of Sebokeng and does ambassadorial work.
TOP PERFORMER: Benni McCarthy is the most succesful players from the SAU23 2000 Olympic team as he went to play for Celta Vigo , Ajax Amsterdam, FC Porto and Blackburn Rovers.