JOHANNESBURG - BANYANA Banyana will want to be razor-sharp when they clash with Angola in their second group stage match of the Cosafa Championship after a nervy ending against Malawi in their Group A opener on Tuesday in Gqeberha.
After a successful outing in the maiden edition of the Buhari Cup last week, defeating Ghana and Nigeria, Banyana started their Cosafa defence this week. They beat Malawi 2-1 at a wet Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Banyana went into the interval 2-0 up, thanks to goals from Melinda Kgadiete and Noxolo Cesane.
But Wezzi Mvula scored Malawi’s consolation goal at the death as Banyana held on for the victory.
“We played right into their hands at times by not releasing the balls quicker or by not moving the ball around quicker. We scored early which made us settle down. We had few other opportunities,” said coach Desiree Ellis after the game.
“In the second half, we knew that they wouldn’t stop running. We said it’s the same instructions as in the Buhari Cup, the first 10-15 minutes were going to be crucial. And we almost scored once or twice. But we didn’t make good decisions.”
Banyana will know that they cannot be complacent against Angola who began their campaign with a 2-2 draw against Mozambique.
South Africa lead the group. But without most of their overseas-based players – only captain and Glasgow City defender Janine van Wyk remained – the local-based players have to step up this afternoon.
For most of these players – such as Cesane, Robyn Moodaly, Gabriela Salgado, Sibulele Holweni and Mamello Makhabane – this is not uncharted territory. After all, they were key in Banyana’s four wins in a row in this regional tournament.
This year’s competition presents a different kettle of fish. The hosts are using the tournament as part of the preparations for their 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) qualifiers in the next few weeks.
Banyana will not be able to defend their crown and win their eighth championship overall if they are not sharp up front or solid defensively. Ellis wasn’t entirely happy on Tuesday.
“We overran the ball at times.
The keeper made a couple of good saves as well. But we didn’t hold on to the ball as we should have. And I think in the last 10 minutes, we played very poorly. We gave the free kick away very sillily,” she explained.
“When the ball came back we didn’t press. At times, when we put the ball down and played we weren’t in complete control. The first game is always important. But it was a good start to the tournament and it gave us a good momentum going forward.”