South Africa qualifies for the last-16 of the 2023 Women’s World Cup for the first time after defeating Italy in a Group G encounter in Wellington on Wednesday.
The 3-2 victory in the final group stage match was South Africa’s first win in Women’s World Cup history in its second tournament appearance.
The Banyana Banyana joins Sweden in qualifying for the round of 16 from group G after the latter beat Argentina to secure the top spot in the group.
South Africa becomes the third African team to qualify for the knockouts after Nigeria (1999, 2019, 2023) and Cameroon (2015,2019).
Italy took a 11th-minute lead thanks to a penalty from Arianna Carusso but South Africa fought back, forcing an own goal from Benedetta Orsi in the 32nd minute, following a blind backpass and scoring through Hildah Magaia in the second half to take the lead.
Carusso scored again following a corner ten minutes later but South Africa stunned the Azzurre with a 92nd minute winner through Thembi Kgatlana to make history.
“They fought like warriors,” said an emotional coach Desiree Ellis, who was a founding member of the South Africa women’s side in 1993.
“They fought like the heroines that we know that they are. They fought to be historically remembered and they’ve made history not just getting our first win, but going to the round of 16 and that is freaking amazing.”