Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk is greeted by Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa at OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana made the nation proud by qualifying for their first ever World Cup, and Mzansi showed them true love upon their return home on Sunday.

There was singing and dancing at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon as the South African women’s team arrived on home soil after their heroics at the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Ghana.

There was the heartbreak of losing the final 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out to Nigeria on Saturday, but by then, the main job had already been done – qualifying for next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.

Banyana Banyana will be joined by Nigeria and Cameroon as Africa’s representatives at the global showpiece.

On Sunday, Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa, as well as Minister of Women, Bathabile Dlamini, welcomed Banyana home at the airport, along with thousands of fans that rejoiced.

“You’ve been given an opportunity, and you grabbed that opportunity. We know it’s not easy,” Xasa said.

She added in a statement: “Banyana Banyana has done us proud, they have been very consistent in their performance, it is no surprising that they are team of the year.

“They may not have won the final, but they are the true champions of this tournament. They have done us proud as a nation.”

Star striker Thembi Kgatlana, who was chosen as the Player of the Tournament after scoring five goals, thanked the crowd and Safa for their support.

“Thank you for supporting us throughout the tournament, for sending us messages, for encouragement, for always believing in us. I want to thank Safa, Sasol and the whole 52 million who were supporting us.

“We went there to Ghana to qualify for the World Cup, it was the mandate. We did that together as a whole team and we are very proud of it. Thank you, and we love you everyone,” she said to loud cheers in a video posted by the Department of Sport and Recreation on their Twitter page.


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