After countless efforts, South Africa finally qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time after beating Mali 2-0 in their semi-final clash on Tuesday in Cape Coast.
Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana and Lebohang Ramalepe scored in either half as Banyana Banyana set up a final African Cup of Nations date with eternal rivals Nigeria on Saturday in Accra. Holders Nigeria had earlier edged Cameroon 4-2 on penalties in the other semi-final game in Accra.
This is the fourth time South Africa has reached the final of the flagship women's competition. And Desiree Ellis and her charges will be seeking to make history by winning the ultimate after achieving qualification to the World Cup.
In their three previous final appearances, South Africa lost to Nigeria in 2000, before suffering defeats to Equatorial Guinea in 2008 and four years later.
Banyana captain Janine van Wyk was the first to threaten Mali's goal with a long-range free-kick in the opening minutes was no trouble for the Mali goalie.
On 31 minutes, Kgatlana broke the deadlock after capitalising on a poor clearance by the Malian defender, to fire home the opener and her fifth of the tournament.
The South Africans maintained control of the game but had to wait till the 81 st minute to be certain of victory after Ramalepe's long shot beat Malian shot stopper Adoudou Konate.
Meanwhile, Cameroon will face Mali in the third place match on Friday in Cape Coast that will also determine the final African representative for the FIFA Women's World Cup in France next year.
Total Woman of the Match: Linda Motlhalo (South Africa)
Desiree Ellis (Head Coach, South Africa)
We knew Mali was going to be a tough match and as usual our analysis was spot on. We made sure that we neutralise the players we thought would pose any danger on us. I felt we were always in control, moments in the second half. I spoke about it in the dressing room that we needed to stay focused and also make sure we didn't lose possession. And also made sure we don't do silly mistakes but we always in control and got the second goal with few minutes to the end.
We knew that we had accomplished what we wanted to do and that's going to the World Cup. This is not about this team only. This is about all of South Africa. This is about all the coaches there before. About all the players who have been there before. It is also about the Football Association. We wouldn't have been anywhere if they weren't on board. They have tremendous in the preparations we have had over a year. They made sure we made the best preparations possible.
We will celebrate tonight and start preparing for the final. We are not a team that talk much in the media. We will work together as a team and plan again. And hope to execute the plan because that's all it is about. We have never won the Women's AFCON and we are going to give it shot and see what happens on the weekend.
Mohamed Saloum Houssein (Head Coach, Mali)
It didn't go well as we expected this time. We played against a well organized team with great strength and unfortunately we lost 2-0. We did our best but once more we played against a strong side.
We have nothing to lose since our mission has already been accomplished and that's making it to the semi-finals for the first time. We are yet to play the 3rd and 4th play off. We are hoping to see our fate in that match.
I want to thank coach Desiree Ellis (South Africa) for the encouragement and the compliments. I learned a lot from what you have said. As you rightly said there is another journey ahead of us and that can determine our fate so we putting things in order to make sure we do well.