Defending champions Banyana Banyana got their Cosafa Women’s Championship campaign off to a victorious start with a 2-1 win over Madagascar in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.
All three goals were scored in the first half at the Wolfson Stadium in kwaZakele, which was the home of non-racial Kwaru rugby in the 1970s and 1980s.
Khanya Xesi opened the account for Banyana Banyana in the seventh minute, and the South Africans doubled their lead 12 minutes later when Nothando Vilakazi found the back of the net.
It looked like coach Desiree Ellis could relax as Banyana – who have won four out of the five Cosafa Cup tournaments – appeared to be in cruise mode.
But Madagascar hit back in the 21st minute via a penalty, which was converted by Marie Sarah Rasoanandrasana.
South Africa would’ve been keen to add to their tally in Group A, especially as Botswana beat Malawi 2-0 in the earlier group game on Wednesday.
And one of their star players, Jermaine Seoposenwe, hit the crossbar, while she was also unable to convert a few other chances.
Captain Refiloe Jane headed an effort over the top as well.
But surprisingly, the islanders showed real determination to carry on their fight, and may even have had hopes of an upset victory when SA debutant Thato Letsoso was sent off for a second bookable offence with about 10 minutes to go.
Luckily for Ellis, Banyana managed to hold on with 10 players to clinch all three points.
Banyana next face Botswana on Friday at the Wolfson Stadium (3.30pm).
Banyana Banyana Team
Andile Dlamini, Lebohang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Kgaelebane Mohlakoana, Regina Mogolola, Khanya Xesi, Jermaine Seoposenwe, Bambanani Mbane, Refiloe Jane (captain), Thato Letsoso, Nompumelelo Nyandeni.