Johannesburg – Banyana Banyana's progress to the final of the African Women's Championships will herald a new era for women's football in the country.
That was the view of SA Football Association (Safa) president Kirsten Nematandani after Banyana defeated Nigeria for the first time, bagging a 1-0 win in Bata in the semi-finals of the continental tournament on Wednesday night.
“That was a fantastic result and we now hope to go all the way and capture the title on Sunday,” Nematandani said on Thursday.
“Banyana Banyana have really become a prestigious South African brand and, as predicted, the (London) Olympics experience is starting to tell.
“Nigeria has always gotten the better of our girls and Wednesday's win should herald a new era for women's football in our country.
“The victory should open doors for the growth of women soccer. Well done to the girls for making the country proud.”
Banyana head coach Joseph Mkhonza, who took charge of the team after they secured the bronze medal at the 2010 African Women's Championships in South Africa, said they were confident ahead of Sunday's final against hosts Equatorial Guinea in Malabo.
“We know that past reputations count for nothing, as we have seen our first ever win against Nigeria, so anything is possible,” Mkhonza said.
“We are in a very positive frame of mind going into the final game against the hosts but we are still focussed on attaining our mission of taking gold in this tournament.
“We came here with a mission and that mission is still on track.”
Central defender Janine van Wyk, who scored the only goal against six-time champions Nigeria, was delighted with the team's achievement.
“I have been in this squad since 2004 and have played 90 times for the national team,” Van Wyk said.
“So to be in the team that defeated Nigeria for the first time leaves an amazing feeling that I will cherish forever.” – Sapa