Banyana Banyana have given South Africa’s beleaguered soccer fans something to cheer about, after claiming their fourth Cosafa Cup Championship title by beating Zimbabwe 2-1 in the final of the 2017 edition at the Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on Sunday. Veteran Leandra Smeda was the standout performer for the South Africans, engineering the first goal before netting the winner in the 91st minute, while the free-scoring Thembi Kgatlana was named player of the tournament. It was also a special moment for Interim Head Coach Desiree Ellis, who became the first South African to win the Cosafa Cup Championship both as a player and a coach. The achievement comes at an opportune time for Ellis, as Safa is looking to appoint a coach on a permanent basis to take the team through to 2020.
Safa President Danny Jordaan congratulated the team. “You have qualified for the Olympics, the Africa Women Cup of Nations and regional tournaments without failure. This is a hallmark of a consistent team. If you keep your feet on the ground, you are headed for great things,” he said.
Many South Africans took to social media to tweet and post their congratulations, including former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and DJ Glen Lewis.
“Congrats to Banyana Banyana on their win, still waiting for the day I see them on the pitch against Bafana Bafana. I bet they’d win,” quipped one fan.
The victory will come as an important boost for women’s football, as the country’s female footballers continue to overshadow their male counterparts. Banyana have represented Africa at the last two Olympic Games and have shown every indication of being able to compete at the highest echelons of the Beautiful Game if given the necessary resources and exposure.