PORT ELIZABETH – Teenager Noxolo Cesane scored her first goal for South Africa as they came from a goal down to beat Malawi 3-1 in their Group A clash in the Cosafa Women’s Championship at a packed Wolfson Stadium, in Port Elizabeth, on Friday.
The victory makes it two wins from two for Banyana as they go in hunt of a third successive regional title, but they were certainly made to sweat by an excellent Malawi side.
Asimenye Simwaka gave the She-Flames the lead inside four minutes, but the home side were level 10 minutes before the break when Lebogang Ramalepe’s cross floated into the back of the net.
Banyana took control of the game after that and took the lead on 68 minutes when substitute Cesane netted her first international goal.
The points were made safe on 85 minutes when Amanda Mthandi finished an excellent team move from a Refiloe Jane pass to net her fourth goal of the campaign.
Zimbabwe put in another superb display as they defeated Mozambique 4-0 to take a firm grip on Group C with two wins and eight goals scored from their games so far.
While perhaps not at their flowing best, the Mighty Warriors were still too strong for the Mozambicans, and took an early lead through Marjoury Nyaumwe.
Emmaculate Msipa made it 2-0 midway through the first half, before striker Rudo Neshamba, back in the side for the first time in three years, took her tournament tally to four as she converted from the penalty spot on the stroke of halftime.
Zimbabwe added just one more goal in the second period as Nyaumwe got her second, but it was still a fine win.
Earlier, Comoros may have been fearing the worst when they went 2-0 down to Madagascar inside the opening three minutes, mindful of their record 17-0 drubbing at the hands of South Africa on Wednesday.
But to their credit they rallied and scored their first-ever goal in the competition through Wafat Mari.
The Malagasy were still too strong though as they ran out 5-1 winners with Marie Rasoanandrasana (two), Solomampionona Razananivo, Aimée Razanampiavy and Hanitriniana Nivonirina on the scoresheet.
The action continues on Saturday with matches in Groups B and C, starting with a clash between Zambia and Namibia.
The Zambians were 15-0 winners over Mauritius in their opener, while Namibia slipped to a surprise 1-0 loss to Botswana.
It is likely to be a much tighter affair at the Wolfson Stadium for Zambia, with Namibia in desperate need of the three points.
Later on Botswana can take a big step towards a semifinal place if they can beat Mauritius with their young selection.
That would set up a pool decider against Zambia, but also potentially keep them in the running for the best runner-up place.
The final game of the day is in Group C, where eSwatini will seek to make it two wins from two when they tackle Angola.
Meanwhile, the action was superb in the inaugural Cosafa Women’s Under-20 Championship matches that were played at the Gelvandale Stadium.
The two games played were in Group B, where East African guest nation Tanzania came out 2-0 winners against Botswana.
Opa Sanga gave them the lead, before Thuto Radipitse put the ball into her own net for the Young Mares.
The second game was more emphatic as Zambia cruised to a 4-0 win over eSwatini, with Maylan Mulenga bagging two goals and Mary Mambwe another.
eSwatini defender Ncedo Gamedze was also the scorer of an unfortunate own goal.
The action will resume in Group A on Saturday when hosts South Africa take on Namibia in a crunch game in that pool between two sides that won their opening games.
Before that there is a clash between Zimbabwe and Mozambique at 11am.