10 April 2019 – Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana have expressed their gratitude to the millions of South Africans who have been supporting them, as well as thousands of fans who gathered at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday, 7 April 2019.
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup-bound squad took on the Reggae Girlz of Jamaica – who are also going to the women’s football showpiece – in an international friendly match at the weekend as part of preparations for the tournament for both sides.
The exciting clash ended in an 1-1 draw, with China-based Linda Motlhalo scoring the home side’s goal.
The fixture was used as a farewell game, as it was the last match on home soil for Senior Women’s National Team before jetting off to the tournament.
This was Banyana Banyana’s first game in Durban since 2011, and the very first appearance at the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium, which was one of the host venues for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“It was our first time playing at the Moses Mabhida Stadium and we didn’t know what to expect, and when we saw the crowd filling up we were just estatic because we have never had such huge numbers in our match. The vibe in the stands was just out of this world and gave the players the much-needed boost – and you could see by the energy they had on the field, pity we did not get the desired result,” said Banyana Banyana head coach, Desiree Ellis.
“We would like to thank the people of Durban for their outpouring support. Their presence made the job easier for us on the field. We feel honoured to have played in front of such numbers because this is also what we should expect at the World Cup. We dare also not forget those who were unable to witness the game, but were with us in spirit, we say thanks to you too – this really means a lot. To the organisers, who worked tirelessly to ensure there were so many fans, thank you to you too. Gratitude also goes to our Association for arranging such a special opposition, whom we share so much in common with. A big thank you to our proud sponsors Sasol, who have been behind us all the way.”
Ellis added that what she saw in Durban gave her more hope about women’s football in this country.
“After the match against Jamaica, the President of SAFA Dr Danny Jordaan came to our hotel and spoke to us. One of the things he said was that ‘the crowd at the stadium was an indication that Banyana Banyana have changed the face of women’s football forever,’ and you don’t think about that until you visualise that a couple of months or years ago this was not possible,” added Ellis.
“This was in a history in the making for women’s football and I think future generations will look at our qualification to the first world cup and perhaps to this match as what turned things around for women’s football in South Africa – and we will forever be proud for having played such an important role. Now the challenge will be to better what we are doing and improve on what is still to come. On the overall, it was good to see so many smiling faces in our country, because that is the job of the national teams – to keep people happy. Thank you once again South Africa. We are confident that we will travel the journey to France and back together.”
Banyana Banyana’s next assignment is against World Champions and the number one ranked nation in the world, the USA.
The away match will be played on 12 May 2019.