The Banyana Banyana team celebrate after the final whistle following their 2-1 victory over Zimbabwe in the Cosafa Women's Championship final on Sunday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
The Banyana Banyana team celebrate after the final whistle following their 2-1 victory over Zimbabwe in the Cosafa Women's Championship final on Sunday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Thembi Kgatlana opened the scoring for Banyana Banyana against Zimbabwe on Sunday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Thembi Kgatlana opened the scoring for Banyana Banyana against Zimbabwe on Sunday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Rutendo Makore of Zimbabwe was marked tightly by Banyana defender Bambanani Mbane. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Rutendo Makore of Zimbabwe was marked tightly by Banyana defender Bambanani Mbane. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

BULAWAYO – Banyana Banyana rule southern Africa!

Leandra Smeda’s stoppage-time goal was enough to see Banyana Banyana beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in the final and walk away with this year’s Cosafa Women’s Championship title on Sunday.

Attacking midfielder Smeda converted the chance with a superb header, following a sweet cross which found her unmarked inside the box from the near side.

This southern regional championship title counts as South Africa’s fourth, after having won it three times before.

Desiree Ellis’ approach for the championship decider was pretty simple. The Banyana interim coach just simply assigned two of her central defenders, Noko Matlou and Bambanani Mbane, to keep Zimbabwe’s potent striker, Rutendo Makore, quiet in their defensive third.

Without the highly celebrated striker, Zimbabwe struggled throughout to connect with their passing game upfront.

Up in the final third, South Africa enjoyed a lot of freedom, pressing towards the opposition’s goal. The only letdown from their side was that they lacked the required finishing touch, which could have seen them score at least three goals before the halftime break.

Leandra Smeda, who grabbed the late winner for Banyana, competes in the air with Zimbabwe's Nobuhle Majika on Sunday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Just before the stroke of halftime though, Banyana made up for the comedy of errors when Thembi Kgatlana received a superb long ball from Smeda while charging towards the goalmouth.

Kgatlana, who was played as a striker in the final, simply converted the chance with her right foot after beating her marker with her pace.

In the second half, Zimbabwe came back inspired to make up for their poor form up in the final third in the first half.

The home side worked their socks off to finally get that equalising goal they were looking for, and it was Makore who converted that chance with a header.

However, it was not to be for the home side as Smeda scored the late goal to see Banyana walk away as the champions.

 

IOL Sport