Phil Masinga, the former South Africa and Leeds United striker who scored the goal that took his country to the World Cup for the first time, died Sunday. He was 49.
The South African Football Association said Masinga died in a Johannesburg hospital from a “cancer related disease” just a month after being diagnosed.
He was transferred last month from a hospital in his home town of Klerksdorp to the hospital in Johannesburg, SAFA said.
Masinga made 58 appearances for South Africa but is best remembered for the fierce long-range strike against Republic of Congo at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg in 1997 that saw Bafana Bafana, then the champions of Africa, qualify for the 1998 World Cup in France.
It sparked joyous scenes in South Africa, a country still basking in the afterglow of the fall of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela as president three years earlier.
At 6-foot-4, Masinga was the center forward for the South African team that won the African Cup of Nations in 1996, a multi-racial squad that made South Africans feel good about their soccer again after years of isolation under…