There were wild scenes of celebration at the final whistle as South Africa deservedly booked their World Cup place, outplaying Mali in every department and showing themselves again to be the most technically proficient team in the competition.
Captain Janine van Wyk broke down in tears at the final whistle, memories of past failures for the moment banished.
Mali barely managed a shot on goal as South Africa’s greater organisation and tactics kept them at bay.
Van Wyk saw her 35-yard free-kick drift wide of the post early on, while Refiloe Jane skewed a shot horribly wide when she would perhaps have been better off trying to pick out a teammate.
Mali thought they should have had a penalty when the ball struck Van Wyk in the box, but the referee waved play-on and it looked the correct decision.