By Charles Mgbolu
South Africa's Mamelodi Sundowns female football team is the latest sporting outfit to add to the country's successes on the field.
The team was recently crowned CAF Women's Champions League winners, marking the third time that a South African side was winning a major sporting title in 2023.
The other wins are from the Springboks, who produced a magnificent display to defeat New Zealand in the 2023 Rugby World Cup final on October 28.
The Mamelodi Sundowns men's team were also crowned the winners of the inaugural African Football League (AFL) after a 3-2 aggregate win against Morocco's Wydad Casablanca on November 12.
The latest Women's CAF Champions League win ensures that South Africa closes 2023 with a deafening roar in African football.
''We did it for you guys; we did it for the young girl who believes in us... That’s who we are. We are Mamelodi Sundowns, we are South Africans, and we are proud," Andile Dlamini, Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper, said in a video message posted on X moments after winning the CAF Champions League.
South Africa's wide-stretching winning streak continues to the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, where the men's team tops Group C, which has Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Rwanda and Benin.
What is South Africa's secret to a good run of form in the major sporting competitions?
South African football pundit Tebogo Mokubung says the string of successes could be a result of a long-term plan paying off.
"The investment the South African Football Association has put into the development of sports in the country is reaping benefits. Look at the rugby team that went to France," Mokubung said.
"The bulk of that team is made up of individuals who have been playing together for more than ten years. And so, there is synergy and understanding within the team, and it has led to proper development."
Papi Molapisane, a South African sports fan, says the series of successes started with the Springboks' Rugby World Cup win.
"South African sports teams have always been talented, but the victory of the Springboks in such a global competition triggered something in them all (football teams)," Molapisane told TRT Afrika.
"They suddenly realised they could do it, and they went into the competitions with everything they got."
Mokubung agrees: "We are in the right direction at the moment. The win from the Springboks gave us momemtum. Everyone looked to the Springboks' win as a motivation. The coach of Mamelodi Sundowns has said this, and so I believe we are on an upward trajectory."
"Caution must not be thrown to the winds. We must ensure that the coaching staff remain independent," Molapisane said.
"The coaches have done an amazing job of selecting players based on merit. That is sound football — not based on an agent who is popular, or based in Europe wanting to market a player using the national team. This helps maintain the culture of competitiveness. We need to maintain this culture with no interference," football pundit Mokubung says.
All eyes are now trained on Bafana Bafana, who have started their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-1 home win against Benin to take an early lead in Group C.
Only one team from each of the nine groups will qualify for the 2026 World Cup.
Bafana Bafana have featured in three World Cup tournaments (1998, 2002 and 2010), and will be hoping to build on this momentum to power their nation to sporting glory.