Thembi Kgatlana, seen here holding off the challenge of Yakare Niakate of Mali, scored the opening goal for Banyana Banyana. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk said on Tuesday that her team hoped to “change the outlook on women’s football in our country” and her team certainly achieved that by qualifying for the Fifa Women’s World Cup for the first time.

The South Africans beat Mali 2-0 in the semi-final of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Ghana, with goals by Thembi Kgatlana and Lebogang Ramalepe, to secure a place in the World Cup in France next year.

Coach Desiree Ellis’ team will now face Nigeria in Saturday’s final after the Super Falcons held off Cameroon 4-2 on penalties after their match ended 0-0 following extra time.

Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa led the chorus of congratulations for Banyana on Tuesday night.

“Banyana Banyana have made us proud as a nation. They have proved 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 in a statement.

“The tweets, Facebook messages and general support reached our girls. Banyana Banyana knew they have 55 million players with them.”

SA Football Association acting chief executive Russell Paul added: “Safa is indeed proud of the achievement of the Women’s Senior National Team this evening in Ghana with their first time qualification for a World Cup Final tournament – the Fifa Women’s World Cup France 2019!

“On behalf of the President, Safa Council and membership at large, we want to congratulate the team. All your hard work, commitment and patience over the past year has finally paid off.

“To the Head of Delegation, Coach, technical and support staff and above all the players – we are indeed proud of your achievement tonight and urge you to remain focused on your next objective – and that is to claim the title of Africa Champions 2018.

“To Sasol, thank you for your confidence in Safa and the support of women’s football in South Africa and particularly Banyana Banyana. Thank you for being the fuel that has allowed this team to drive forward with success.”

Skipper Van Wyk began the celebrations in the changing room afterwards, and tweeted that the job was not over yet.

“No words can describe my emotions right now. Thank you to EVERYONE for the most amazing support & for believing in this team! WE HAVE DONE IT! WE HAVE MADE HISTORY! WE ARE @Banyana_Banyana Now we going for that Gold Medal”

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