The Banyana Banyana (the Girls) of South Africa are going in for their maiden Women’s World Cup competition, the only African team of the three making their debut at the WWC finals and one of four others to make baby steps at this level, the others are: Jamaica, Chille and Scotland.
How they qualified:
The 49th ranked team in the World (South Africa) picked up silver medal in the African Women’s championship held in Ghana, 2018.
Here is a reminder of their journey;
Banyana Banyana squeezed pass Nigeria through a Kgatlana goal at the 85th minute to win Nigeria 1-0 before going ahead to smack Equatorial Guinea 7-1, and latter pulling a parity (1-1) with Zambia to finish as winners of Group B_what wasn’t certainty,it wasn’t on the scripts. South Africa then went ahead to comfortably see off Mali 2-0 at the semi’s-along came an automatic qualification to their first ever Women’s World Cup before they fell in the finals of that tournament to a revived Nigeria 4-3 on penalties.
The Woman behind the fairytale is former player with 32 caps from 1993 to 2002 in the name of Desiree Ellis. She was the second captain of the Banyana Banyana in her days as well as one of the founding ladies of the national selection.
The 56 year old was at the helm of the Spurs Ladies from 2006-2016 before reuniting with the South African Women’s team. In Elli’s three years spell she has progressively guided the team to fourth_in the 2016 AWCON and latter won the silver medal in 2018. Winning the 2018 COSAFA tournament against Cameroon.
Ellis was crowned CAF Women’s coach of the year in 2018 ahead of Nigeria’s Thomas Dennerby and Joseph Ndoko of Cameroon.
The skipper of the side, captain Jannie Van Wyk is a real leader and people sometimes are tempted to call her captain fantastic. Her role in this team cannot be over emphasized_she has bottled 160 appearances since 2005, scoring 11 goals in that time.
Rafiloe Jane is the complete midfielder. The 26-year-old maestro is one of the youngest to have reached 100 appearances for the national selection and it is indeed well deserved. The metronome starts things up from defense to attack, and Rafiloe is vital to the way Disiree Ellis set’s up her formation (quick on the break). She was one of the standout players for Banyana Banyana at the female AWCON.
The third and final on the roaster is Thembi Kgatlana.Kgatlana is the best female footballer in Africa currently, after beating Asisat Oshoala to the award in 2018.The 23 year old has led the attack for country 15 times and scored 7 goals including the 5 goals in the 2018 AWCON that won her the golden boot. Watch out for her quick runs on the shoulders of the last defender.
The Banyana Banyana of South Africa are the only team in group B ranked outside first 20.
Considering that South Africa perhaps did not get a lucky draw, paired with 1999 runners-up China, 2 time winners Germany and European powerhouse Spain, qualification to the next round of the competition for AWCON runners-up is going to be a huge success.