South Africa’s national women’s football team played their final match on home soil this past weekend. This, just before they head to their maiden Fifa’s Women’s World Cup in France.
Dubbed their farewell match, Banyana Banyana were held to a 1-all draw by Jamaica at Durban’s iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium. Interestingly, this was the first time Banyana played at the 85 000 capacity stadium, which played host to some matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Myself and five industry colleagues decided to take a road trip to Durban from Johannesburg for this historic friendly match. Historic in the sense of it being the first time both nations meet in a friendly match. Both nations are also heading to their first World Cup tournament.
“Banyana Banyana were worth the journey and I can do it all over again” – gsport Woman in Radio Award winner 2016, 2017 and 2018 – Rachel Makhura
Most importantly, the Fifa Women’s World Cup Trophy was in Durban as part of its world tour. This was the first time the trophy made a stop on the African continent, making it an occasion not to be missed.
Thousands of fans made their way to the stadium. The Durban crowd was phenomenal. This being the team’s last match at home, the crowd did not disappoint. Previously, the team has played in smaller venues around the country, making it easier for fans around the area to just walk to the stadium and watch them play.
It’s safe to say Banyana is certainly doing something right. Even captain Janine van Wyk went as far as saying (in the post-match interview) that Durban was the best crowd she has played in front of.
“It has become very clear that supporters are willing to follow the team everywhere and anywhere they go.” – Rachel Makhura
Despite the result, the girls performed well. Of course we wanted a match winning performance. That would have sent the stadium into frenzy of excitement. But then this was just a friendly – no need for over-the-top back-breaking performance that could result in injuries of star players before the world showpiece.
So Sweden, Netherlands, Cyprus Women’s Cup and Jamaica are out of the way. The USA awaits. South Africa, ranked 48th in the world, will take on the number 1 ranked nation and the current world champions USA, in what is believed to be their last preparatory match before the world cup.
That match takes place on Sunday, May 12, at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, USA. That will surely give our girls that last final test against a much stronger opposition.
As for me and by colleagues, it was indeed a worthy 12 hour journey to and from Moses Mabhida. I can confidently say Banyana Banyana were worth the journey and I can do it all over again.
Photo 1 Caption: Banyana Banyana pictured with the FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup France trophy, ahead of the senior national women’s football team’s final home appearance ahead of the tournament’s showing this winter. Photo: Rachel Makhura
Photo 2 Caption: Banyana Banyana and Jamaica line up for national anthems as the World Cup debutants make final preparations ahead of the FIFA tournament, 7 June to 7 July 2019. Photo: Rachel Makhura
Photo 3 Caption: Supported by the celebratory loyal home fan base, Banyana Banyana put on a dominant home and looked good for the win after the 25th-minute strike by Linda Motlhalo, but the Reggae Girlz’ Khadija Shaw equalised in the second half to dash hopes. Photo: Rachel Makhura
With editing by gsport