The World Cup Football was for the first time held in the African Continent and South Africa was the country to host it.
Amongst various other things, this world cup, like all the 18 world cups before, had a special reason to be remembered by—Be it the fantastic Stadium like Soccer City in Johannesberg, the crazy support for the game of Football, the most imperfectly perfect Jabulani ball or the famously infamous vuvuzelas.
The World Cup in South Africa was extremely unique in its own way on-the-pitch also. Very few competitions in the last few decades have produced such a competitive tournament, where no team could be considered pushovers or mere outright favorites.
As we head to the end of the tournament, here I have tried to put together a sequence of 10 first timers at the World Cup South Africa 2010. These things along with a lot many others made the World Cup in South Africa an event to remember.
Korea DPR played the world cup in South Africa after being in exile for 44 years. They were also the lowest ranked (by FIFA) team to play in this world cup. Very few teams, if any, have had a swing in the FIFA rankings as heavily as Korea DPR, from 57 in 1993 to 181 in 1998 to 105 presently.
Although the players did brilliantly to qualify for the competition, the draw did them little favors as they were placed in the so-called Group of Death alongside Portugal, Cote d'Voire and the highest ranked team going into the tournament, Brazil.
As it turned out, the draw could not have been any worse than bringing them face-to-face with the five time World Champion, Brazil in their opening encounter.
Very few, if anyone, had ever expected a fight or resistance of sorts from the Koreans as they marched into the match on July 15th, 2010.
Korea DPR played to their strength and defended with all their might. So stiff was their defense that even the former World champions took almost an hour (55 minutes) and one of the goals of the tournament to break it open.
Nevertheless, Korea DPR fought on and became the first team to be ranked above 100 by FIFA to score against Brazil in a World Cup encounter. Yun Nam Ji took the honours in the 89th minute, as Brazil survived a late scare to win the match 2-1.
The Brazilians had a unique record before heading into the competition. They had never conceded a goal to any African Nation in any World Cup so far. Quite a record to be proud of, as the Africans were known for their fighting spirit and did manage some major upsets at previous World Cups.
Didier Drogba, however, broke the jinx as he became the first African ever to score against Brazil, when the top ranked side took on Cote D' Voire.
Alongside Eto'o (Cameroon), Drogba had become the face of African Football ever since his move to the English Premier League, and it was quite fitting that he had achieved the feat, although the African Nation faltered and had to suffer a crucial and demoralizing defeat at the hands of the Brazilians, with the match ending 3-1 in the favor of Brazil.
South Africa entered their last Group match knowing an unprecedented 3-0 victory over the French could really give them a good chance of qualifying to the Round of 16.
The French also needed a win to proceed further or at least salvage some pride. They, however, completely fell apart as Khumalo and Mphela scored for the hosts and Bafana Bafana started sniffing glory.
The second half wasn't as good for the hosts though, as their star of the tournament Tshabalala and a few others missed chance after chance to score. South Africa still held on though to emerge winners by a 2-1 margin.
Not enough to take South Africa through, though it was a historic moment as it was only South Africa's second victory World Cup hostory and their first victory against a former World Champion in France.
Keisuke Honda became a Japanese hero as he scored the only goal in their first encounter against a fiery Cameroon side to win their first ever match in a World Cup away from home.
The strike would prove really fatal for the African Nation as they continued their miserable form. Cameroon went on to lose all their matches in the competition. And after their second loss in the tournament against the Danes, Cameroon became the first team to crash out of the World Cup, 2010.
In a group that was considered the easiest of the pick, new comers Slovakia and minnows New Zealand proved quite a handful.
In a shocking turn of events, Italy, the 2006 World Champions, suffered an unprecedented defeat at the hands of the fighting Slovaks, who by virtue of their exemplary performance proceeded to Pre-Quarters stage in their first appearance at the World Cup.
No wonder, Slovak and Liverpool FC defender, Martin Skrtel imprinted the magical words Vidi, Vici, Vini on his body.
Be it a matter of mere coincidence or otherwise, the fact is that before the World Cup 2010, never have the hosts been knocked out of the World Cup in the Group stages.
In all the 17 World Cups that were held in one singular country (actually the World Cup in 2002 was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea), all the hosts did proceed to at least the Round of 16.
But for all their valor and brave fight, the Bafana Bafana still had a little too much to maintain the staus quo to this unbelievable record.
France almost did a repeat telecast of their performance in 2002 and Italy matched the French of 2002 step by step. However, what gave the two European Super Powers a position in the Hall of Shame was the fact that it was the first time in the history of all World Cups that both the finalists of the previous World Cup were knocked out of the Group Stages.
Whatever the reasons, there can be no doubts that these two elite teams consistently performed below par and were deservedly forced to exit.
The Netherlands have had world class talent in their sides for quite sometime now, right from the times of the proverbial "Total Football" and the legendary Johan Cryuff.
That was followed by the golden age of Ruud Gullitt, Van Basten and Rijkaard, then came Bergkamp, Overmars and Co.
However, even with a bunch of such talented players, the Dutch were never quite able to win all their group matches, a feat which the current squad of Kuyt, Sneijder, Robben and Co. can boast of.
Although their ultimate quest for glory remains shrouded in the future, statistically they have proved themselves to be at least a little ahead of their glorious predecessors in terms of collective performances in the World Cup.
Before the World Cup started, as always the Latin American Super powers in the form of Brazil and Argentina were touted as favorites to win the cup.
However, some reporters were also sharp to point to the fact that only Brazil were the only country to win the World Cup outside their own continent. This further lowered the odds against Brazil winning the cup this time.
gain another myth of Latin American Supremacy, which was busted by the European super powers.
Whatever happens from now, at the eve of the World Cup Final, we know that for the first time in history an European Country is sure to win the World Cup. We also know that Brazil will have to wait for another World Cup in Africa to keep their record of winning the competition in every continent which organized the World Cup intact.
After we already had seven Countries winning the World Cup, it's time for the eighth to surface.
At Soccer City in Johannesberg on July 11th, 2010 we'll come to know with certainty who that would be. Whatever happens we'll witness history. This being the first World Cup to be hosted by Africa and it's just a matter of moments before either the Dutch or the Spanish are crowned World champions.
As we consider the facts and browse through predictions as to whom reigns supreme, there are a few facts too which surely will make it a first time.
If the Spanish, who are considered outright favorites at the moment (especially after their performance against Germany and Paul the Oracle Octopus's immaculate predictions favoring them!), win the World Cup, it will be the first time that any team wins the honors after being beaten in their first match of the competition.
It will also be a first time that any team would have lost thrice at the world Cup finals without ever winning it. Only the Germans have lost three World Cup finals to date, but they did win three also.
Whether the Spanish win or the Dutch win, just as I remarked previously they will be the first ever European Country to win the world cup outside Europe.
What a way to win the first ever World Cup!