The big moment has arrived for Banyana Banyana.
The South African women’s football team are just 90 minutes away from qualifying for their first ever Women’s World Cup.
Banyana take on Mali in the semi-finals of the African Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) in Ghana tonight (8.30pm kickoff), and victory will ensure qualification for France 2019.
The top three teams at the Awcon go through to the World Cup, and Banyana do not want to leave the job of qualifying to the third-place playoff, where they have come short in the last two tournaments.
Captain Janine van Wyk issued the final rallying cry just a few hours before kickoff on Twitter.
“It’s been a long, tough, hard working journey for us. Filled with many ups & downs. The time has come for us to reach out and achieve our long life dream!! Today is a day not only to make history but change the outlook on womens football in our Country,” Van Wyk posted.
The South African team have had well wishes stream in, with Under-20 men’s coach Thabo Senong saying in a video on the Safa Twitter account that Banyana must “write your history”.
Amajita coach @ThaboSenong wishing @Banyana_Banyana well ahead of their all important women's #afcon2018 semi-final clash against Mali tonight at Cape Coast Stadium. Kick-off is at 8.30pm SA time. @BurgerKing#limitless pic.twitter.com/49Ti1MSyq0— SAFA.net (@SAFA_net) November 27, 2018
Former Banyana coach Vera Pauw added: “This is your game @Banyana_Banyana !!! Good luck!”
Bantwana (SA Under-17 girls) coach Simphiwe Dludlu, whose team have just competed in the Under-17 World Cup, said: “Wishing the @SasolSA @Banyana_Banyana the very best in tonight’s semi final clash against Mali... We believe in you always. The Champs you are have given us the best of yourselves throughout. Finish Strong.”
Coach Desiree Ellis made one change to the starting line-up that drew 1-1 with
Banyana Banyana Team
Kaylin Swart (goalkeeper), Lebohang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Janine van Wyk (captain), Bambanani Mbane, Mamello Makhabane, Linda Motlhalo, Thembi Kgatlana, Refiloe Jane, Leandra Smeda, Jermaine Seoposenwe.
Substitutes: Roxanne Barker (GK), Andile Dlamini (GK), Noko Matlou, Koketso Tlailane, Amanda Mthandi, Melinda Kgadiete, Busisiwe Ndimeni, Tiisetso Makhubela, Kgaelebane Mohlakoana, Nompumelelo Nyandeni.@ashfakmohamed