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#EWNSportingMoments: Van Wyk recalls Banyana's historic WWC qualification

In order to book a spot in the competition in France, South Africa had to ensure that they finished in the top three at the Africa Women Cup of Nations.

FILE: Banyana Banyana celebrate a goal. Picture: @GovernmentZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - With sports fans stuck at home without any live action, EWN Sport looks back at some of the biggest sporting moments that fans could not get enough of.

First up is Banyana Banyana’s historic qualification for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup.

In order to book a spot in the competition in France, South Africa had to ensure they finished in the top three at the Africa Women Cup of Nations.

After two wins and a draw in the group stages, South Africa went into the semifinal against Mali knowing that nothing but a win would do in their quest to qualify for a first World Cup.

A goal just after the half-hour mark from Thembi Kgatlana calmed the nerves before Lebo Ramalepe closed out matters as South Africa won 2-0 and set up a final meeting with Nigeria.

South Africa went on to lose that match 4-3 on penalties, but captain Janine van Wyk said that the team left the competition having achieved their main goal.

“We didn’t even think about playing Nigeria or winning gold just yet because the celebrations were so high, but it was an unforgettable moment for all of us.”

Recalling the night before the game, Van Wyk admitted that it was hard for her to sleep knowing the team stood just 90 minutes from history.

“I just locked myself up in my room and didn’t say much to anyone,” she said. “I was highly focused, and I couldn’t sleep that night. I had butterflies in my stomach and I couldn’t eat the night before because the feeling in my stomach was unreal.”

After the final whistle, Van Wyk admitted that everyone on the team was emotional because of what they had accomplished.

“I remember I just fell to the ground and cried. Noko (Matlou) came to me, Desiree (Ellis) came to me and we just cried together because it was unreal. It was a moment we had waited for our whole careers.”

“We knew this was the moment for us, where we could make history and that is exactly what we did.”

At the World Cup, South Africa struggled for wins as they were defeated by Spain, China and Germany on their way to a group stage knockout.

Van Wyk said that there were important lessons learned despite their disappointing showing.

“It made us think that if we had the resources that these top countries have, we would be just as good because we have the talent, it’s just that we do not have the proper structures in place in order to make the best from what we can give.”

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