South Africa’s national women’s soccer team Banyana Banyana has made history after qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year (2019).
The team’s 2-0 win against Mali in the semi-finals of the African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) in Ghana takes them to the finals of the tournament on Saturday, 01 December 2018, where they will meet Nigeria’s Super Falcons.
It has also guaranteed them a spot in the Women’s World Cup in France in 2019. This will be their first time participating in the women’s world tournament, making it a victorious moment in South African sporting history.
Head coach Desiree Ellis also becomes the first coach to lead the team to the Women’s World Cup.
She said the win was a victory for the whole of South Africa because people had believed in the team.
“The team has been magnificent and stuck to the game plan and stayed true to what we do. It was an amazing feeling. Everyone came forward [at the end of the game] and you could see the emotion of the players. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment,” said Ellis.
She also gave credit to past coaches, players and the technical team for bringing the team to this point.
The team dominated against Mali in the semi-final with goals being scored by forward Thembi Kgatlana and defender Lebogang Ramalepe. Linda Motlhalo was named Woman of the Match.
After the game, Captain Janine van Wyk tweeted, “No words can describe my emotions right now. Thank you to EVERYONE for the most amazing support and for believing in this team! WE HAVE DONE IT! WE HAVE MADE HISTORY! WE ARE @Banyana_Banyana Now we going for that Gold Medal #AWCON2018 YESSSSSSSSSSSS.”
Social media was alight with proud South Africans sharing the good news. President Cyril Ramaphosa took to Twitter to share his excitement.
“@Banyana_Banyana just keeps making us proud. Our national team just made history by qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time during today’s #AWCON2018 semi-final match. Somebody call France, tell them Phillip is coming!”
Xabiso_Nqalo27 (@XNqalo), said, “Well done to our ladies #BanyanaBanyana, they have demonstrated patriotism and great performance playing for the pride of their nation.”
Dexter's Lab @LobzMarele tweeted, “Honour and respect of the highest quality for coach Desiree Ellis and the @Banyana_Banyana team. Well done. This is definitely a motivation for many to conquer this day going forward!”
Minister of Sport and Recreation South Africa Tokozile Xasa also congratulated the team on their success.
“Banyana Banyana has made us proud as a nation; the team has proven once more that they are the team of the year. This win will go a long way to motivate our girls to choose football as a sport of choice,” Xasa said.