GOLD COAST, GHANA – Exactly 21 years after Bafana Bafana qualified for France ’98, Banyana Banyana will return to the country that played host to the senior men’s national team in its first Fifa World Cup qualification.
In 1997, striker Phil Masinga’s long range shot sunk Congo 1-0 at the FNB Stadium to book a ticket to France.
And exactly 21 years down the line, Banyana Banyana have qualified for their maiden Fifa Women’s World Cup that will take place in France next year.
There are a number of similarities in how these two feats were achieved. One, the two goals that sealed the two deals were all from long range efforts – that of Masinga and Banyana’s second goal by overlapping defender, Lebogang Ramalepe.
Secondly, the two feats were achieved by local coaches – Clive Barker and Desiree Ellis. Although Barker didn’t travel with the team to France after he was replaced by Philippe Troussier, he was the one who engineered the France sojourn.
The Desiree Ellis-coached side completed a memorable qualification having played some swashbuckling football in the tournament so far in which their mainstay has been a watertight defence, mobile midfield with some quality finishing upfront where striker Thembi Kgatlana is enjoying the form of her life.
Ellis said while the team achieved its main objective of qualifying for France next year, they were now focusing on the final on Saturday against their nemesis Nigeria who they beat 1-0 in the opening game of the tournament.
Banyana are expected to return home on Sunday at 5.30pm and hordes of supporters are expected to give them a rousing welcome.
African News Agency (ANA)