Banyana Banyana scored a vital away goal as they drew 1-1 in the first leg of their Olympic qualifiers against the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Stade des Martyrs in Kinshasha yesterday.
The South African women’s national team had to come from behind to ensure they held the advantage in the return leg in their own backyard on Monday.
Head coach Desiree Ellis was forced into fielding a makeshift back four with Tuks attacking midfielder Wendy Shongwe lined up at left-back under difficult circumstances.
The home side were quick to spot the weaknesses in the visiting team’s fullbacks as Galatasaray left-back Naomi Kabakaba terrorised Fikile Magama with her speed and power.
Therefore, it came as no surprise when the opening goal saw both wing-backs exploited. Kabakaba managed to weave herself into a crossing position before delivering a ball towards the far post.
Trabzonspor’s Grace Mfwamba then fired the ball into the roof of the net, leaving Banyana goalkeeper Kaylin Swart with no chance five minutes before half-time.
Although Thembi Kgatlana showed flashes of brilliance in trying to create chances, it was the hosts that took control of the first half and they probably would have scored more goals if not for Swart.
At the break Ellis brought on TS Galaxy Queens’ Nicole Michael for Amogelang Motau and it proved to be a masterstroke.
Michael announced her arrival in fine style in the 46th minute as she was played in behind the DRC, before she rolled it on for Kgatlana to tap home from close range and get the African champions level.
Kgatlana, who was at the heart of everything Banyana did, could’ve stolen the win late on as she spurned a great opportunity in the 79th minute.
Winger Gabriela Salgado did well to steal the ball from a DRC defender before dishing a low cross to the striker but Kgatlana could not generate enough power and her effort was easily gathered by the goalkeeper.
Banyana walked away the happier of the two teams in the end after scoring a vital away goal.