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Banyana into AFCON final, qualify for World Cup

Banyana Banyana are into the final of the 2018 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and have qualified for the FIFA World Cup thanks to their 2-0 win over Mali in a semi-final clash on Tuesday evening.

A goal from Thembi Kgatlhane in the 31st minute gave South Africa a crucial lead in the match.

It was Kgatlhane fifth goal in four games at the tournament.

The result was wrapped up in the 80th minute when Lebohang Ramalepe chipped the Mali keeper from 20 metres out.

South Africa will now play Nigeria in the final of the tournament.

They will be desperately hoping to win the AFCON trophy after finishing runners-up in 2000, 2008 and 2012.

Victory also means than Banyana Banyana booked their tickets to the 2019 FIFA World Cup, which will take place in France in June.

This is the first time that Banyana Banyana have qualified for the world’s premier soccer tournament. 

“It’s a victory for the whole of South Africa, ” Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis said. “For all the wonderful support they’ve given us throughout this tournament and believing in us.

“Everyone was magnificent, the players, staff, technical team and the people who don’t usually get a mention as each and everyone played a part.

In helping Banyana Banyana qualify for France, Ellis joined the elite group of South African-born coaches who achieved the same feat before her – Solly Luvhengo (U-17 Women – 2010 Trinidad and Tobago), Molefi Ntseki (U-17 Men – 2015 Chile), Clive Barker (Bafana Bafana -France 98), Thabo Senong (U-20 Men – 2017 Korea Republic), Simphiwe Dludlu (U-17 Women – 2018 Uruguay).

Banyana Banyana also qualify for the World Cup 20 years after Bafana Bafana played their maiden tournament in France in 1998.

Already qualified for the World Cup are hosts France, China, Thailand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Chile, Spain, Italy, England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Canada, USA, Jamaica, Netherlands, Argentina, and Nigeria.— Sport24

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