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South Africa Qualifies For First Women's World Cup

South Africa and Nigeria became the first two teams to qualify for the Women's World Cup out of Africa on Tuesday, with one more spot up for grabs.

The 2018 Women's Africa Cup of Nations kicked off last Sunday to determine which CAF teams will be headed to France next summer. Similar to the Concacaf format, eight teams were divided into two groups, with the top two teams in Groups A and B advancing to the knockout rounds. The winners of the semifinal matches would automatically qualify for the World Cup while the losers would go head-to-head in a third-place match to determine the final CAF spot. 

Tuesday, Group A winner Cameroon took on Group B’s surprise second-place finisher and reigning CAF champion Nigeria. Neither team could find a way to break through after 120 minutes and so it was off to penalty kicks. Despite having the better of the possession throughout the match, Cameroon fell to the CAF giants on PKs 5-3.

With the victory, Nigeria qualified for its seventh straight World Cup. The Super Falcons have appeared in every edition of the tournament since its inception in 1991.

Later on, South Africa battled it out with Mali, this year’s CAF Cinderella, in the second semifinal match. Mali, the sixth-ranked team in the eight-team field and 89th-ranked team in the world, surpassed favored Algeria and host Ghana to advance out of Group B with the hopes of making it to its first-ever World Cup.

That dream may still be a reality for the West African side but just not one that would come true Tuesday.

Instead, Tuesday was South Africa’s day to make history.

The Banyana Banyana comfortably handled their opponents in a 2-0 win thanks to goals by Lebogang Ramalepe and Houston Dash’s Thembi Kgatlana. The result means South Africa qualifies for its first-ever World Cup.

Cameroon and Mali still have one more chance to qualify in the third-place match on Friday while the CAF champion will be determined the following day in the Women's Africa Cup of Nations final in Accra, Ghana. 

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