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Banyana Banyana celebrated Youth Day in style by qualifying for the 2012 African Women Championship which will be held in Equatorial Guinea in November this year.
The SA women’s team scored a thrilling 2-1 victory (6-2 on aggregate) over Zambia in the second leg qualifier played at the Kanyamazane Stadium near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga on Saturday.
Banyana Banyana won the first leg 4-1 in Lusaka two weeks ago.
At the Kanyamazane Stadium, Portia Modise continued her prolific goalscoring form by netting her 70th goal in her 91st appearance for the national team. The goal came in the 18th minute.
The Palace Super Falcons striker scored from an unchallenged position after receiving a cross from the left from Leandra Smeda. The Zambia defence failed to mark Modise, clearly waiting for the match official’s whistle for an off-side ruling, but the goal stood.
The Zambians struck back almost immediately with a goal by Mwila Bowa in the 20th minute after the SA defence failed to clear their lines.
With both sides creating a series of scoring opportunities, fans were treated to an action-packed encounter, and it was Modise who restored SA’s lead with a powerfully struck left-footed effort two minutes into the second half.
Despite holding a clear fourgoal advantage on aggregate, Banyana Banyana head coach Joseph Mkhonza strengthened the strikeforce with Noko Matlou taking over from Sanah Mollo 15 minutes into the second half, and teenage winger Jermaine Seoposenwe replacing Russian-based Nompumelelo Nyandeni a few minutes earlier.
Nyandeni’s attacks down the right flank had been a thorn in the Zambian flesh all afternoon, creating much pressure on the visitors’ midfield and fullback.
Kovsies FC midfielder Gabisile Hlumbane got a run for the final 10 minutes on the left wing at the expense of Smeda and showed some classy touches.
“It’s a good feeling having qualified for this tournament,” said Mkhonza.
“I am happy with the effort of the team and the different combinations we tried. It’s also good to see that all the players we fielded today put up a good fight.
“Now we need to focus on building certain areas like goal scoring.
“We missed plenty of opportunities but then again scoring goals is a process and we hope by the time we get to the Olympics we’ll be ready.
“This was our last game at home and now we need to focus on London.
“Today’s game was not as high profile as playing against the likes of Scotland or even Nigeria and the upcoming matches will require a lot more hard work and team effort.”
Banyana will continue with their Olympic preparations when they take on Nigeria in a friendly in Lagos on Saturday.