Masuluke is the first African footballer to reach the Puskas
Former Orlando Pirates captain Thabo Mngomeni laughs softly when asked of the significance of September 3 2000.
"How can I forget that historical day, my brother," is how the former Bafana Bafana midfield player responded when he was asked about the events of that day in Pointe Noir in the Republic of Congo.
On that day, Bafana were up against Congo in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, a match they won 2-1 courtesy of Mngomeni's spectacular bicycle kick. Mngomeni's goal is often described as a unique example of combining technique and timing to produce a spectacular result.
The goal was so great that it won him the goal of the year award at the Confederation of African Football ceremony in May 2001.
Mngomeni's strike comes to mind as South Africa and the African continent anticipate another winner, this time on the global stage, through Baroka FC goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke, who is up against Arsenal marksman Olivier Giroud and Venezuela's Deyna Castellanos for the Fifa Puskas Award, which will be announced on October 23 in London, England.Masuluke is the first African football player to reach this stage of the prestigious competition, and Mngomeni believes there's no contest as he feels "the award must simply be given" to the Bakgaga glovesman.
"For me, there's no better contender, and I'm not saying this because Masuluke is a South African," he said. "This goal explains us as Africans in many ways, especially our creativity.
"The best part is that he managed to produce that moment even though he's a goalkeeper, which is a rare phenomenon."
Talking about Masuluke's opponents, Mngomeni applauded Castellanos's effort, saying for a woman football player to produce that long-range shot (inside her own half) was commendable, even though he was quick to say that for him Masuluke was the undoubted winner."The thing with Castellanos's goal is that we always see goals like that from the infield players. It's not out of the ordinary."
For the rarity of Masuluke's goal, Mngomeni, who encouraged Africans to vote for the player, said there was simply no contest.
He also highlighted what he views as a shortcoming in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) awards, where Masuluke's goal came second to that of Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Simphiwe Tshabalala's goal.