ACCRA – South African women's coach Desiree Ellis said Sunday's 1-0 victory over Nigeria in Group B at the Cape Coast in the African Cup of Nations "was for the people back home".
"We played against a very good side today and they lost concentration for one moment which decided the game," said Banyana Banyana's Ellis.
"I said at pre-match press conference that we needed to be phenomenal and execute the plan. Even though they had a lot of possession, they didn't really fight back except only one occasion. It took us a moment of brilliance to decide the match.
"We planned very well and gave it all out there. We said the first game of the tournament is most important and it is even bigger when you are playing Nigeria. The victory is not only for us but for the people back home."
A brilliant strike by substitute Chrestina Thembi Kgatlana five minutes from time handed South Africa a dream start in the tournament.
Kgatlana struck late into the game to give the South Africans a surprise win over their perennial rivals.
Banyana Banyana gave a good account of themselves right from the start of the game making early incursions in the game.
They came close for the opener in the 27th minute but Refiloe Jane's effort was weak to beat goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi.
Nigeria's biggest opportunity came their way in the 33rd minute when Desire Oparanozie missed a sitter following a brilliant play by Asisat Oshoala.
Oparanozie surprisingly blasted wide with only the South African goalie to beat after being put through by Oshoala.
South Africa came very close again seven minutes into the second half as Jermaine Seoposenwe's attempt missed the goal by a whisker. Chrestina Kgatlana finally broke the game's stalemate in the 85th minute to decide the outcome.
Banyana's Chrestina Kgatlana was voted Woman-of-the-Match.
Meanwhile, Nigerian coach Thomas Dennerby was not happy: "I am very disappointed that we lost the game. It would have been fair if it had ended in a draw."
Banyana’s next Group B match is on Wednesday against Equatorial Guinea (8.30pm SA time).
The top three teams at the end of the tournament will qualify for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
African News Agency (ANA)
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