BANYANA BANYANA have been crowned champions of the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship after defeating Zimbabwe on Sunday at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo.
Two goals from either half by Thembi Kgatlana and Leandra Smeda were enough to see South Africa lift the trophy for the fourth time – 2002, 2006, 2008, 2017 – they only missed out in the final in 2011, going down 1-0 to Zimbabwe.
The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana started the game very well and could have scored a couple of goals before the break, with Bambanani Mbane’s powerful shot being saved by the Zimbabwe goalkeeper, and Kgatlana failing to convert on two occasions.
But Kgatlana redeemed herself on the stroke of halftime to give South Africa the lead when she latched on to a long ball from Smeda and outsprinted her marker to beat the goalkeeper.
The hosts came back in the 73rd minute to level matters through a great header by Rutendo Makore, who had, up to this point, been closely marked by Noko Matlou.
She only got a second and beat her to a header, giving Andile Dlamini no chance in the Banyana Banyana goal.
This was Makore’s 10th goal of the tournament, making her the Top Goal Scorer.
With time running out for both teams, and a penalty shootout looming to determine the winners up stepped Smeda with a header in referee’s optional time.
Chantelle Esau put in a cross, and Smeda connected well in the far post to score Banyana Banyana’s second of the day, and her fourth of the tournament to give South Africa victory right at the death.
She finished the tournament level on four goals with Kgatlana, while Rhoda Mulaudzi chipped in with another one.
Bambanani Mbane, who was like a rock in defence, was voted Player of the Match.
With the victory, Banyana Banyana interim head coach Desiree Ellis became the first South African – men and women – to win the COSAFA Cup as both player and coach.
She won her first gold medal in 2002, where she played against the current head coach of Zimbabwe.
African News Agency (ANA)