Banyana Banyana will now travel to Sydney, Australia, where they will prepare to take on the Netherlands on Sunday at the Allianz Stadium.
President Cyril Ramaphosa sent his congratulations as the South African senior women’s team made history and qualified for the Round of 16 in a FIFA World tournament for the first time ever on Wednesday morning.
Banyana beat Italy 3-2 at the Wellington Regional Stadium to send the country into celebration on the second day of Women’s Month.
Coach Desiree Ellis’ side started on the back-foot with Italy getting a penalty in the 11th minute, and Caruso Arianna made no mistake and converted from the spot.
The African champions pilling on the pressure and creating back-to-back chances, but were unlucky with the delivery of the final product.
South Africa were eventually handed a lifeline in the 32nd minute when Orsi Benedetta slotted past her own goalkeeper to bring South Africa level. The two teams went to the half-time break deadlocked at 1-1.
The second half started with coach Ellis introducing Nomvula Kgoale for Robyn Moodaly as the team strengthened their midfield and get the winner that was required to get the side out of the group stages.
One of the chances finally materialised into a goal after Thembi Kgatlana’s run found Hildah Magaia, who made no mistake as she slotted the ball past the Italy goalkeeper in the 67th minute, and the South Africans were in the lead.
The celebrations were cut short, however, when Italy got their equalizer in the 74th minute to level the highly contested encounter, with Arianna getting her brace.
The breakthrough moment finally came for Kgatlana, who was the captain for the day, as she scored a stunner in the 90th (+2) minute and it was the goal that sealed the victory for Ellis’ gallant team. The goal booked a spot for Banyana Banyana in the Round of 16 and history beckoned for the team as they became the first South African side to make it out of the group stages of a FIFA World Cup tournament.
Written by: Ntsako Mukhari