South Africa’s Banyana Banyana are through to the knockout stage of a FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time in the country’s history following a 3-2 comeback win against Italy at the ongoing tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
The historic and first World Cup win for South Africa began on the back foot barely 10 minutes into the game when Arianna Caruso put Italy upfront from the spot.
However, in the 32nd minute, the South Africans were back in the game thanks to Benedetta Orsi’s own goal.
South Africa grabbed the lead in the 67th minute through Hildah Magaia, thanks to an assist from Thembi Kgatlana, but the Italians equalised seven minutes later through Caruso to record her brace of the tie.
Racing Louisville forward Kgatlana, who said after the match that she had lost three family members in three weeks, sealed the historic moment for South Africa with her goal in added time to help the reigning African champions reach the World Cup round of 16.
South Africa finished second in Group G behind Sweden, who won all their three matches of the group stage, with the Banyana Banyana joining Nigeria’s Super Falcons as the second African country to qualify for the knockout round.
“I am very happy for this historic moment, and I just want to be here for the girls,” 27-year-old Kgatlana said after the match. “Over the last three weeks, I have lost three family members, but I chose to stay with my girls (teammates).”
She added, “I came back from a very brutal injury, for me to be here to play for my country, to represent and make history with South Africa, is the best and everyone deserves that. We messed up two games but this one is the game I think we had to do well and as you can see, the girls are happy.”