Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana have been crowned the 2017 CAF National Team of the Year at the AITEO CAF Awards 2017 held in Accra, Ghana on Thursday night (4 December 2018).
The South Africans beat off the challenge of Ghana and Nigeria U20 National Teams to the title.
"We all did it, I am overwhelmed. I knew we stood a good chance of winning this award but when it actually happened all I could say to myself was 'wow', and it just brought tears to my eyes. I'm really lost for words this time," said an emotional Desiree Ellis, the interim Banyana Banyana head coach.
"But this is an incredible achievement for Women's football in South Africa and a big thank you must go to our sponsor Sasol for the continued support and to SAFA for giving us the opportunity to compete internationally. We want to thank all the coaches and players of Banyana and Sasol League teams because each and everyone of them played a big part in the growth of women's football in this country."
South Africa's nomination came as a result of them lifting the COSAFA Women's Championship in Zimbabwe in September last year, where they were unbeaten in the tournament, winning the trophy a record fourth time.
There was sad news however in the category of Women's Player of the Year, where Banyana Banyana striker Thembi Kgatlana was nominated - but she lost out to Nigeria's Asisat Oshoala. The other contender was Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene of Cameroon.
"I am sad for Thembi and I was confident she was going to win it, but I guess it was not her night. I was really hoping she would follow in the footsteps of Noko (Matlou) who won it in 2008. But she is young, and I believe this will drive her to even greater heights. I believe just being nominated into the top three she is already a winner - because it is not many who get to receive this accolade of being nominated for such a big award," added Ellis.
2017 CAF AITEO AWARDS WINNERS:
Women's Player of the Year
Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria & Dalian Quanjian)
Women's National Team of the Year
South Africa - BANYANA BANYANA
Club of the Year:
Men's National Team of the Year:
Coach of the Year:
Hector Cuper (Egypt)
Youth Player of the Year:
Patson Daka (Zambia)
African player of the Year:
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Egypt)