Who’s Banyana Banyana’s best of the best?
JOHANNEBURG - Banayna Banyana reigned supreme over their southern African counterparts during the recent Fifa international break, beating Zambia and Botswana 3-1 and 2-0 respectively in friendlies at Bidvest Stadium in a space of three days.
We take a closer look at three of the Banyana stars over the two matches.
After an impressive outing for Banyana in the Cosafa Championship triumph late last year, Salgado continued where she left off during the friendlies against Zambia and Botswana – she was unofficially crowned the Queen of the Week.
Although she didn’t score against Zambia, she was a nuisance to their defence. With Salgado eliminating her markers and whipping in telling crosses inside the box, Thembi Kgatlana should have walked away with a hat-trick had she not wasted the passes.
Salgado didn’t drop her head, though, instead she built on the momentum. She was finally rewarded with a goal against Botswana, scoring from the tightest of angles after sneaking the ball between the legs of goalkeeper Sedilame Bosija for her team’s second.
Having been on form for Spanish side SD Eibar this season, scoring 10 goals and registering a handful of assists in 20 appearances, it was going to be interesting to see how Kgatlana would fare in the Banyana jersey since her last outing in 2019.
But “Pikinini” showed the football fraternity that she’s nothing like her nickname (which means tiny) anymore.
Instead, she's matured as a footballer and person. Of course, her pace which usually unnerves the defenders is still part of her game plan.
But she works for the team, more than herself. She set up Eibar teammate Noko Matlou with a delightful through ball for her second goal against Zambia, while scoring the third with a poacher’s mentality after being at the right place at the right time.
She did that by capitalising on a failed clearance by goalkeeper Esther Banda. Kgatlana should have scored more, but the cluster of defenders in front of her made it difficult. But she made it two goals in two matches, with a well taken strike against Botswana.
Matlou is just getting better and better. After Banyana went a goal down against Zambia, the bulky centre back rolled back to her days as a striker, scoring the equaliser with a thumping header, before grabbing the lead with delightful finish from close range a few minutes later.
The 36-year-old versatile footballer from thereon ensured that her team closed shop, winning almost all the aerial duels that the Copper Queens threw at them, while keeping the ever green Barbra Banda at bay for the duration of the last stanza.
It was perhaps against Botswana where Matlou proved that she still has a lot to offer and has grown in leaps and bounds since joining Eibar.
She guided youngsters Tiisetso Makhubela and Koketso Tlailane who had replaced Sibulele Holweni and Bongeka Gamede.