Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk and coach Desiree Ellis celebrate with the fans at OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday. Photo: Itumeleng English/African News Agency/ANA

Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk said that the rapturous welcome her team received at OR Tambo International Airport was “the most unforgettable moment of my entire career”.

The tough-tackling Van Wyk thought she might never see a World Cup, but now the heartbreak of the past has been replaced by the joy of going to France 2019.

Banyana Banyana may have gone down 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out to Nigeria in the final of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Ghana on Saturday, after the match ended goalless after 120 minutes, but they still qualified by virtue of finishing second in the Awcon.

The top three go through to the World Cup, so Cameroon qualified by winning the third-place playoff against .

“THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE MOMENT of my entire football career. Thank you SOUTH AFRICA for the most amazing reception back into the Country,” Van Wyk tweeted upon arrival in Johannesburg.

There was further joy for Van Wyk and two other teammates, Player of the Tournament Thembi Kgatlana and Lebohang Ramalepe, who were included in the Team of the Tournament.

Kgatlana scored five goals for Banyana.

Goalkeeper Kaylin Swart and midfielder Linda Motlhalo made the Best XI bench.

The Banyana squad were treated to a breakfast on Monday by Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa in Kempton Park, which was also attended by Safa president Danny Jordaan and vice-president Ria Ledwaba, amongst others.

@ashfakmohamed


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