South Africa 3-2 Italy: Thembi Kgatlana reveals family sorrow as Banyana Banyana march on

South Africa are into the last 16 after claiming their first Women’s World Cup win with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Italy in Wellington.

Thembi Kgatlana’s stoppage-time winner came after Italy fought back to level with an Arianna Caruso header.

The late drama completed an emotional fortnight for the South African goalscorer.

“Over the last two weeks, I’ve lost three family members. I could have gone home but I chose to stay with my girls,” Kgatlana said.

“Because that’s how much it means.”

The Racing Louisville forward, who suffered an Achilles injury in 2022 that kept her sidelined for 10 months, added: “I came back from a very, brutal injury to be here, to play for the country, to represent every single girl that wanted to be here, to make history with the girls for South Africa.”

South Africa will play Group E winners the Netherlands on Sunday.

After earning a first World Cup point in their 2-2 draw with Argentina, the Banyana Banyana have shown significant progress from their debut appearance at the tournament in 2019, when they lost all three group matches.

There were scenes of jubilation for the South Africa players when the final whistle confirmed they had made history for their nation.

“They fought like warriors,” manager Desiree Ellis said.

“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.

“This victory is for everyone back home, people that got up in the early hours of the morning to support us – that is for them.”

Knowing a win would guarantee their place in the knockout rounds, Italy got off to the perfect start when they were awarded a penalty as Karabo Dhlamini caught the heels of teenager Chiara Beccari and Caruso calmly converted to put her side in command of their World Cup future.

However, South Africa were gifted a leveller as Benedetta Orsi, playing her first World Cup match, was left red-faced when she hit a no-look back pass to a surprised Francesca Durante and it rolled into her own net.

Ellis’ side burst into the lead when Kgatlana slipped a clever ball through the Italy defence to put Hildah Magaia through on goal and she lifted it over Durante.

VAR seemed like it may have come to South Africa’s rescue when Caruso equalised from a corner, but after a lengthy delay the goal was given.

A draw would have been enough to take Italy into the knockout rounds, but their hearts were broken when Magaia stepped through the defence and squared to Kgatlana, who made no mistake in finding the back of the net.

Player of the match

KgatlanaThembi Kgatlana

with an average of 9.20

South Africa

  1. Squad number11Player nameKgatlana

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  2. Squad number8Player nameMagaia

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  3. Squad number10Player nameMotlhalo

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  4. Squad number3Player nameGamede

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  5. Squad number12Player nameSeoposenwe

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  6. Squad number4Player nameMatlou

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  7. Squad number20Player nameMoodaly

    Average rating


  8. Squad number7Player nameDhlamini

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  9. Squad number2Player nameRamalepe

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  10. Squad number23Player nameShongwe

    Average rating


  11. Squad number22Player nameKgoale

    Average rating


  12. Squad number18Player nameHolweni

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  13. Squad number14Player nameMakhubela

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  14. Squad number13Player nameMbane

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  15. Squad number1Player nameSwart

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  1. Squad number10Player nameGirelli

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  2. Squad number20Player nameGreggi

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  3. Squad number9Player nameGiacinti

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  4. Squad number13Player nameBartoli

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  5. Squad number18Player nameCaruso

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  6. Squad number7Player nameCantore

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  7. Squad number17Player nameBoattin

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  8. Squad number14Player nameBeccari

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  9. Squad number11Player nameGlionna

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  10. Squad number8Player nameBonansea

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  11. Squad number4Player nameDi Guglielmo

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  12. Squad number5Player nameLinari

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  13. Squad number22Player nameDurante

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  14. Squad number6Player nameGiugliano

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  15. Squad number3Player nameOrsi

    Average rating


  16. Squad number16Player nameDragoni

    Average rating



South Africa

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Swart
  • 2RamalepeSubstituted forMakhubelaat 90+5′minutes
  • 13Mbane
  • 4Matlou
  • 7DhlaminiSubstituted forHolweniat 90+15′minutes
  • 20MoodalySubstituted forKgoaleat 45′minutes
  • 3Gamede
  • 8MagaiaSubstituted forShongweat 90+5′minutes
  • 10Motlhalo
  • 12Seoposenwe
  • 11Kgatlana


  • 5Magama
  • 6Cesane
  • 9Salgado
  • 14Makhubela
  • 16Dlamini
  • 17Kgadiete
  • 18Holweni
  • 21Moletsane
  • 22Kgoale
  • 23Shongwe


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 22Durante
  • 4Di GuglielmoSubstituted forBartoliat 64′minutes
  • 3OrsiSubstituted forGlionnaat 90+10′minutes
  • 5Linari
  • 17Boattin
  • 18CarusoSubstituted forGreggiat 84′minutes
  • 6Giugliano
  • 14BeccariSubstituted forCantoreat 84′minutes
  • 16Dragoni
  • 8BonanseaSubstituted forGirelliat 64′minutes
  • 9Giacinti


  • 1Giuliani
  • 2Severini
  • 7Cantore
  • 10Girelli
  • 11Glionna
  • 12Baldi
  • 13Bartoli
  • 15Serturini
  • 19Lenzini
  • 20Greggi
  • 21Cernoia
  • 23Salvai

María Carvajal


Match Stats

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Match ends, South Africa 3, Italy 2.

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