South Africa have done it! Banyana Banyana progressed to the knockout stage of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Wednesday after a late Thembi Kgatlana strike gave them their first ever World Cup victory in a thrilling 3-2 defeat of Italy to finish up action in Group G. South Africa progress to the Round of 16 with the victory where they will face the Netherlands on August 6.
A theme of attacking prowess mixed with defensive indiscipline continued for Banyana Banyana on Wednesday. A rash challenge from South Africa left back Karabo Dhlamini inside ten minutes was judged to be just inside the penalty area and led to a penalty kick being awarded for Italy. Arianna Caruso had no issues firing her spot kick low past goalkeeper Kaylin Swart for the opening goal.
However the South African team were handed a gift soon after the half hour mark when Italy defender Benedetta Orsi hit her back pass too firmly past goalkeeper Francesca Durante for an embarrassing own goal. The momentum was on the side of Banyana Banyana who began to look more dangerous and found the go-ahead goal in the 67th minute through Hildah Magaia, who received a pass from Kgatlana and fired past Durante.
Italy leveled seven minutes later through Caruso who got a touch to Cristiana Girelli’s header following a corner kick. South Africa needed a goal to advance and it seemed Italy would hold on despite being under heavy pressure. The breakthrough finally arrived for Banyana Banyana early in second half stoppage time and it was an intricate attack from Kgatlana and Magaia that resulted in Magaia returning the favor from earlier with a low cross that Kgatlana hit first-time past Durante to spark jubilant celebrations.
Click the link below to watch the highlights from a thrilling match.