Banyana, Angola come out guns blazing but shoot blanks in Gqeberha
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JOHANNESBURG - Banyana Banyana may have drawn their second group stage match against Angola at a sticky Gelvandale Stadium in Gqeberha on Friday afternoon, but they are still on course to qualify for the quarter-final of the Cosafa Women's Championship.
The South Africans are at the summit in Group A with four points, thanks to a win over Malawi and the draw with the Angolans. They are followed by Malawi who are on three points after defeating Mozambique in the other group stage match.
Banyana, though, will know their fate on Monday when they clash with Mozambique in the last group stage match. Banyana are defending champions of the regional tournament after claiming it in each of the last four years.
Banyana came into this tournament high on confidence after recently claiming the maiden edition of the Buhari Cup in Nigeria a week ago. Banyana are using the tournaments as preparation for the CAF Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers.
After a nervy ending to their Group A opener against Malawi, who scored the consolation goal late on Tuesday afternoon, Banyana were eager to hit top gear from the outset against the Angolans.
But that wasn’t going to be easy, considering the fact that coach Desiree Ellis had left out the spine of her team – Gabriella Salgado, Robyn Moodlay and Janine Van Wyk. The trio’s absence was evident as Banyana struggled early on.
The Angolans dominated the early stages of the matches, with great inter play heading into Banyana’ final third. But they were let down by their poor finishing. And that allowed the champions to find their rhythm back into the game.
Captain of the day Mamello Makhabane orchestrated proceedings in the heart of the midfield with some silky touches going forward. But perhaps South Africa's first real chance of the game came after 30 minutes from close-range.
Left back Sibulele Holweni found herself with acres of space on the edge of the box before attempting a shot with her weaker foot, but that sailed inches wide of goal. But Banyana continued to press in numbers in quest of a lead.
And it was last match’s goal scorer Noxolo Cesane, who had Banyana’s second shot at goal. But she, too, couldn't find the breakthrough as her pin-point shot was parried away for a corner by Angolan goalkeeper Antonio Sandrina.
After the two teams went into the interval deadlocked, they came into the second stanza guns blazing. But it was the South Africans who had the first shot on target, with Melinda Kgadiete hitting her close-range shot against Sandrina.
But the Angolans nearly punished Banyana for their wasteful antics up front as the lanky striker Cristina Maluky saw her flicked header towards goal saved off the line by the high jumping goalkeeper Kaylin Swart who had a very quiet first half.
In the end, though, the two teams couldn’t be separated in regulation time as they bagged a point each. Banyana remained at the summit of the standings with four points after two games, while Angola have two points – with game to play.