8 August 2023 – Members of the Banyana Banyana camp have started to make the long trip back home from Australia and three players arrived to a heroine’s welcome at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday (8 August 2023).

Hildah Magaia, Noko Matlou and Thembi Kgatlana were happy to be home in South Africa after a historic FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand that saw coach Desiree Ellis’ charges make history as they got their first point, won their first match in the global tournament and then made a maiden appearance in the knockout stages.

“Each and every one of us is proud,” Magaia said.

“We went there with the mandate of qualifying for the Round of 16 and we did that. So it is a proud moment for all of us. We picked up injuries (in the game against the Netherlands) and it really killed our morale in the game. These things happen in football.”

Banyana’s hopes in the tournament were dealt a heavy blow in the match against the Netherland when Jermaine Seoposenwe got a knock and despite numerous attempts to return to the field and continue playing, the player was eventually substituted in the 29th minute with youngster Wendy Shongwe.

Things worsened when Bambanani Mbane was stretchered off the pitch after suffering an injury in the 39th minute, and coach Ellis was once again forced to make a forced substitution. Tiisetso Makhubela was the replacement.

The Netherlands eventually won 2-0 and Matlou said they were unlucky in that game.

“It is not by mistake that we won WAFCON last year,” she said. “We went to the World Cup and we wanted to give our best, and we did our best. We went to the knockout stages and were unlucky to lose to the Netherlands in the Round of 16.”