JOHANNESBURG – Although they might have rued their chances that they created in the match, Banyana Banyana’s 1-1 draw against Zambia in the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) was enough to progress them into the semi-finals.
Their progression into their last four was hugely boosted by their dominance into the last two matches, as they beat 10-time African champions Nigeria by 1-0 in the opener, while that was followed by a 7-1 thrashing of Equatorial Guinea in the second match.
As a result, coach Desiree Ellis’ troops took the lead courtesy of their best player at the moment, Thembi Kgatlana. The Houston Dash striker continued with her brilliant performance in the Awcon as she opened her side’s scoring spree as early as the eighth-minute. This was Kgatlana’s fourth goal in the tournament, while she’s also bagged two lady of the match awards.
Following a through-ball from the left wing down the left wing, Kgatlana calmly controlled the ball just outside the 18-area before unleashing a thunderbolt into the top corner.
However, two minutes later, that advantage was cut short as Shepolopolo levelled matters courtesy of Rachel Kundananji. The big Zambian striker, got at the end of a team-play as she got the better of goalkeeper Kaylin Swart on her near post.
But did that demotivate the South Africans? No. They continued to dominate the interchange of play in the first half, as they played the ball with more purpose in the heart of the midfield.
Convincingly enough, play, in the first stanza was orchestrated around right-back Lebohang Ramalepe. Ramalepe, was in her 51st cap for Banyana, and as a result, she didn’t disappoint as she made productive runs in the flanks of the midfield.
However, Shepolopolo were resilient in allowing the South Africans run over them , as their main lady, Kundananji was a nuisance for Banyana’s defence.
Earlier on, Refiloe Jane should have put Banyana ahead. However, she ballooned the opportunity wide of goal.
Early into the second half of the match, Banyana should have, yet again, restored their advantage but their set-piece in close range was casual.
However, that missed opportunity was yet again their wake-up call into the second half as they controlled play but were let down by their finishing.
Into the 65th minute, Kgatlana should have grabbed her brace as she rounded goalkeeper Hazel Nali but that was wide off goal. That was followed up by an attempt from Refiloe Jane in close range but she ballooned the attempt wide off the posts.
Meanwhile, in group B, the Super Falcons ensured that they bagged their last four spot as they beat the Guineans by 6-0 in the last match of the group stage.
South Africa (1) (0)
Zambia (1) (0)