The man they had to thank was the substitute striker, Mark Williams, who will be back at Molineux playing for Wolves when his hangover wears off some time later this week.
Williams only came on as a replacement for Phil Masinga in the 65th minute of the match after persistent South Africa pressure against a defensive Tunisia side had failed to produce a breakthrough. "You can't sit back and defend the whole time against a team that has South Africa's offensive talent," Clive Barker, the South Africa coach, said of Tunisia's tactics.
How right he was. Eight minutes after Williams had entered the fray, Doctor Khumalo's free-kick was only half cleared and when it was chipped back into the box by Sizwe Motaung, Williams rose for the header and the Tunisian keeper Chokri el Ouaer, a star of the tournament, was finally beaten.
A minute later, Khumalo's pass sent Williams in on the left of the box and his left-foot strike found the far corner behind a diving Chokri. Party time.
That was a fitting result, with Tunisia managing only one shot on goal. Part of the responsibility for that goes to South Africa's defensive pairing of Lucas Radebe and Mark Fish, who were outstanding, and midfield hardman Eric Tinkler. They all enhanced their growing reputations.
It was the first victory for a southern African side in the African Cup, being played for the 20th time since the inaugural tournament in 1957. The South Africa players collapsed in joy at the final whistle, then did headlong slides at each end during a raucous lap of honour.
All of which was watched by President Nelson Mandela, who stood and cheered with the rest He later kissed the large silver cup when it was presented to South African captain, Neil Tovey.
"I'll remember this day," a jubilant Barker said. "I think everybody knows that this day belongs to South Africa." Street parties erupted in Johannesburg and other cities, and were expected to continue today.
The FNB Stadium on the edge of the Soweto black township was almost full hours before the final, when Zambia defeated Ghana 1-0 courtesy of a second- half goal by Joel Bwalya to win the third-place match. Streets were packed with local fans who danced and shouted as they entered the ground.
Unlike other soccer matches in South Africa, several thousand whites mixed with the mainly black crowd, showing the success of Mandela's efforts to use sport to break down racial barriers in the former apartheid state.
The tournament only had 15 teams instead of the planned 16 due to a boycott by Nigeria over a political dispute with South Africa. The Confederation of African Football suspended Nigeria from the next two African Nations' Cups because of its boycott.Reuse content