August, 3 2023.
The story of Africa at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, got even better on Wednesday with South Africa's
Banyana Banyana taking their very last chance in the tournament, by scoring a last ditch goal that ensured their progression, as the second team from the continent, after Nigeria to reach the second round of the Mundial, being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Thembi Kgatlana was the heroine of the day, as she set-up the second goal, that gave the South Africans the lead for the first time, at the Wellington Regional Stadium, after falling behind the Le Azzurre (the Blues) of Italy whose opener came from the penalty spot in the 11th minute.
An own-goal in the 32nd minute, by Benedetta Orsi gifted Coach Banyana Banyana an equalizer and Ariana Caruso completed her brace in the 74th minute, by pulling Italy level, with 16 regular minutes left on the clock.
The scores stayed at 2-2 until the second minute of stoppage time, when captain Kgatlana stepped up to score a goal that broke Italian Hearts, but sent millions across the African Continent, into a frenzy and wild jubilation.
Final score was 3-2 for Coach Desiree Eliss's side who sneaked into the Round of 16, behind European powerhouse, Sweden who thrashed hapless Argentina 2-0 in the other Group G tie, to make it a 100% win record.
Historically, it will be the first time Africa as a continent will be having two teams in the first knockout round of the women's World Cup; but credit must go to South Africa, who defied a string of tactical errors in their first two games, that hindered their qualifying for the Round of 16 earlier, only to do the improbable in the very last minute, on Wednesday.
The reigning African Champions, followed in the footsteps of nine-time African Champions, the Super Falcons of Nigeria, who had on Monday qualified as runners-up to Australia from Group B, and will be facing the Lionesses of England, on August 7th, for a place in the last eight.
South Africa may however have to play their next match without their Captain, Refiloe Jane who plays for Sassuolo of Italy. The 30-year-old
got a knock during the match, and is now an injury doubt for their Round of 16 fixture. But luckily, their dependable midfielder, Kholosa Biyana who plies her trade with Sporting de Gijon of Spain and was suspended for the game against Italy, having had two yellow cards, should be available for the showdown against the Netherlands, on Sunday.
Elsewhere, the fairy tales and run by African teams could even get better, on Thursday when the continent's Vice-Champions, the Atlas Lionesses of Morocco takes on a very compact Columbian side; while Germany battles South Korea in the last Group H fixtures, to be played simultaneously.
After shipping-in half-a-dozen of goals in their opening game against Germany, Morocco bounced back to beat the Koreans for their very first win at the finals. With 3 points and a massive minus 5 Goals difference, it does look certain that only a miracle can see the debutants qualify for the next round.
To emulate their men's team that went as far as the semifinals of the World Cup in Qatar last year; Morocco will have to beat a formidable Colombian side, who are already on 6 points by a cricket score, while hoping that Germany does not beat South Korea.
A narrow win over Colombia, (which is a possibility) may still be enough to see them squeeze into the Round of 16, but Germany has to lose of even draw their final encounter, www.ckdmedia.ng reports.