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FOR the first time in 15 years, a South African women's team has qualified for the World Cup.
The under-17 women's team defeated Tunisia 2-1 in their own backyard on Saturday after a 1-0 win at home two weeks ago, to ensure a 3-1 aggregate win and to clinch this historic moment.
South Africa will join Nigeria and Ghana as the third CAF representative at the 16-team tournament in Trinidad and Tobago in September.
An ecstatic team manager Fran Hilton-Smith said this has been a very long time coming.
"It has taken 15 years but it was worth the wait. A few times we came close with Banyana Banyana and Basetsana, and now these kids have done it, at last," said Hilton-Smith yesterday.
The goals by Robin Moodaly in the 17th minute and Christelene Jantjies' 37th-minute strike ensured Bantwana a victory over the North Africans.
Safa director of women's football Nomsa "Sister Boss" Mahlangu hailed coach Solly "Homeboy" Luvhengo and his charges, calling the qualification the "realisation of a long cherished dream".
"I am beyond excited and humbled. This is something we have been wishing for and it could not have happened at a better time. 2010 has been a year of great things for the African continent, and I can say it is Africa's time," Mahlangu said.
Mahlangu made special mention of Sasol and Absa, the companies that have been at the forefront of women's soccer development in the country.
"Our partners' contribution allowed the girls to play week in and week out, thereby ensuring they hone their skills."
While the male teams' performances are richly rewarded with money, Mahlangu said this will not be the case for the women.
"Women's football does not get the same support that the men's game gets. But I will ensure that all these players get scholarships to study further," she said.