South Africa: Banyana Banyana Enter a New Era for Women's Football

Photo: SAFA
Banyana Banyana facing Nigeria in a previous international friendly match.

Banyana Banyana's 1-0 semi-final triumph over Nigeria in CAF African Women Championship action in Bata Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday, 7 November 2012, is the dawn of a new era for women's football in South Africa.

Speaking after Banyana Banyana's historic win over Nigeria, SAFA President Kirsten Nematandani said these were exciting times for women's football in the country.

Nematandani will fly to Malabo to support the Sasol-sponsored South African senior women's national team in Sunday's (11 November) final against hosts Equatorial Guinea.

"That was a fantastic result and we now hope to go all the way and capture the title on Sunday. Banyana Banyana have really become a prestigious South African brand and as predicted, the Olympics experience is starting to tell," said Nematandani.

"Nigeria has always gotten the better of our girls and Wednesday's win should herald a new era for women's football in our country. The victory should open doors for the growth of women soccer. Well done to the girls for making the country proud."

Banyana Banyana head coach Joseph Mkhonza, who took charge of Banyana Banyana after the national team's bronze medal finish at the CAF African Women Championship 2010 held in Ekurhuleni, near Johannesburg, remarked:

"We have come a long way since winning the bronze medal in Ekurhuleni in 2010. We know that past reputations count for nothing as we have seen our first ever win against Nigeria so anything is possible. We are in a very positive frame of mind going into the final game against the hosts but we are still focussed on attaining our mission of taking gold in this tournament. We came here with a mission and that mission is still on track," said Mkhonza.

Nobody in the Banyana Banyana camp had a bigger smile than central defender Janine van Wyk, whose stunning 23rd minute left footed strike from 25 metres broke the Nigerians' hearts, giving South Africa their first ever win over Africa's No 1 ranked side since 1993. Nigeria has won the CAF AWC six times.

"At the CAF African Championship held in South Africa in 2010 I scored with a free kick from 35 metres out against Nigeria, and my team-mates always remind me that I normally reserve my best for matches against Nigeria," she laughed.

"I have been in this squad since 2004 and have played 90 times for the national team, so to be in the team that defeated Nigeria for the first time leaves an amazing feeling that I will cherish forever. Safa and Sasol need to be thanked for the continued support given to women's football, which has allowed the players to become household names across all communities, and role models, most notably to the youth."

Sasol Sponsorship Specialist, Football, Dumisani Mbokane expressed his delight at the national team's successful passage to the grand finale of Africa's premier women's football event.

"Sasol is a committed role player in working towards the empowerment of women through football which is a key cornerstone of nation building," said Mbokane.

"On behalf of Sasol, I would like to extend our sincere congratulations to the Banyana Banyana management and players, and wish them the best of luck for Sunday's final."

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