29 November 2018 – Exactly 20 years after Bafana Bafana qualified for France’98, Banyana Banyana will return to the country that ushered the Senior Men’s National team its first FIFA World Cup qualification.
In 1997, striker Phil Masinga’s long range shot sunk Congo 1-0 at FNB Stadium to book a ticket to France. And exactly 20 years down the line, Banyana Banyana have qualified for their maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup to take place in France next year.
There are a number of some strike similarities on 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 Banyana’s second goal by overlapping defender, Lebogang Ramalepe.
Secondly, the two feats were achieved by local coaches – Clive ‘The Dog’ Barker and Desiree Ellis. Although Barker didn’t travel with the team to France after he was replaced by Philippe Troussier, he is 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 focussing on the final on Saturday against their nemesis Nigeria whom they beat 1-0 in the opening game of the tournament.
Banyana Banyana are expected to return home on Sunday at 17h30 and hordes of supporters are expected to give them a hero’s welcome.