COSAFA Women’s Championship holders South Africa will play in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France after storming into the final of the ongoing 2018 AWCON tournament in Ghana.
South Africa will meet Nigeria, a side they beat in the opening game of the tournament in a final which promises all the thrills on Saturday.
Goals by Thembi Kgatlana and defender Lebogang Ramalepe sealed South Africa’s spot in this prestigious competition.
Desiree Ellis’ side has been the team of the tournament so far and their World Cup qualification comes as no surprise as they have played the most enterprising football in the competition so far.
Whatever happens in the final, Banyana Banyana are set to receive a hero’s welcome when they return home.
There was only one team which wanted a slot in the final in this second semi-final – and it was South Africa.
Captain Janine van Wyk was the first to threaten the Mali goal with a long range free kick but her powerful effort just went wide as South Africa started the match on the front foot.
Jermaine Seoposenwe was then blatantly brought down in the box on the 26th minute but the Tanzanian official waved play on much to the chagrin of the Banyana Banyana bench.
South Africa then took the lead in the 31st minute through Thembi Kgatlana who gladly accepted a miscued clearance by the Mali defender to score her fifth goal of the tournament.
It was a deserved lead after Banyana Banyana had spent most of the first half in the West African area.
South Africa dominated this semi-final encounter for long periods with their famous possession football but could not add to the 1-0 advantage in the first half.
Desiree Ellis’ side were never put under pressure and maintained composure even under pressure although captain van Wyk was booked for a professional foul in Mali’s rare attack.
South African then made the game safe in the 81st minute when overlapping Lebogang Ramalepe’s pile driver beat the Mali keeper hands down.
After the goal, Mali’s heads dropped as South Africa easily saw they game out.