WATCH | Banyana stars Kgatlana, Magaia, Matlou arrive at OR Tambo
Three Banyana Banyana players — scoring stars Hildah Magaia and Thembi Kgatlana, and defensive stalwart Noko Matlou — arrived home from the 2023 Women’s World Cup at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday evening.
Banyana became the pride of South Africans as the first senior national side from the country to reach the World Cup knockout stages, progressing as the lowest-ranked team from group G and winning the hearts of supporters in New Zealand and Australia for their brave displays.
The lost 2-0 to 2019 losing finalists and group E winners Netherlands in the last-16.
“It’s a proud moment and a dream come true for all of us. We went there knowing it would not be easy but we gave it our all,” Magaia said.
Kgatlana refused to give interviews.
Veteran defender Matlou said Banyana's impressive showing Down Under should strengthen the South African Football Association's bid to host the 2027 Women's World Cup.
“I think we have a fair chance of hosting the World Cup. We went there, we showed our talent, we showed South Africa is among the best teams in the world, so I think we deserve to host the World Cup,” she said.
“We are happy about our achievement. But remember, if you have watched the World Cup [some of] the big teams ranked in the top 10 were knocked out early.
“It shows that there is a lot of work other countries are doing work behind the scenes.
“But the three African teams that reached the knockout stages was not a mistake. It showed at the Wafcon [last year's Women's Africa Cup of Nations, which Banyana won] that something would happen.
“I think in four years' time one of the teams from Africa can win the World Cup.”
Banyana, ranked 54th, punched above their weight conceding a last-gasp goal and winner losing 2-1 against Sweden in their group G opener in New Zealand and blowing a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 against Argentina before beating Italy 3-2 via an injury-time winner.
The national team, due to logistical issues procuring flights after their progression past the group stage, arrive in two more batches on Wednesday and Thursday.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.