BULAWAYO – Notando ‘Vivo’ Vilakazi celebrated her 100th cap with a win following Banyana Banyana’s 3-1 victory over Namibia on Friday, a result which guaranteed them a place in the Cosafa Women’s Championship semi-final with a game in hand.
The 29-year old received her 100-cap jersey with a bouquet of flowers during the halftime break, in recognition of what she has achieved with the senior women’s national side.
In her 99th game, where Banyana handed Lesotho a 3-0 hiding in the first match of this tournament, Vilakazi produced a player-of-the-match performance, and they built from that in this game as well as Banyana endeavour to push for their fourth title of this regional championship.
Against Namibia on Friday, Banyana played with more speed and accuracy in the passing game, and there was a greater edge in the final third compared to their first game.
The South African national side lacked that power the day before in their previous match against Lesotho.
Coach Desiree Ellis, who made four changes in her squad in an attempt to freshen it up a bit, was most pleased with how they were able to run their opponents ragged under such circumstances.
Thembi Kgatlana, who came in as a substitute for Rhoda Mulaudzi in the first game, was the first one to register her name on the score-line.
The petite left winger scored a stunner of a curled shot after dribbling past her marker, following a superb cross from the far side.
Then Chantelle Esau followed. The centre-forward anticipated Kholosa Biyana’s play and ran into space to receive a defence-splitting pass, and then struck a powerful shot to send the ball home.
Namibia created a few chances of their own, with their right winger Zenatha Coleman giving SA’s defence all sorts of trouble each time she was on the move.
However, the Namibian side could only score one goal through Millicent Hikuam, as Banyana kept matters compact in the rearguard.
The South Africans could have scored their third just before the break, but Kgatlana –who was in a good position to shoot at goal after bursting through the defence – opted to play the ball to the on-rushing Esau, who was a second late to tap it in.
In the second half, Ellis brought in the experienced striker-turned-defender, Noko Matlou, for Regina Mogolola, who had a fantastic debut in Banyana’s first match.
Ellis’ decision was influenced by trying to add more composure and calmness in her defence to complement the aggression her side showed upfront.
Mogolola lacked that in the first half, especially after Banyana conceded that comeback through Hikuam’s shot.
Mogolola committed a foul just a few minutes before halftime, which could have seen Namibia equalise had Coleman’s set-piece gone in.
Just before the stroke of fulltime, Esau and Kgatlana made another surging run towards the opposition keeper, with her defence left in tatters due to their lack for pace.
This time around, though, Esau charged towards the goalmouth and forced the opposition goalkeeper to commit with a dummy, and then played the ball to Kgatlana, and the pacy winger didn’t disappoint.