22 March 2012
Banyana Banyana edged Ghana, ranked second in Africa, by five goals to four from the penalty spot after the teams had played to a 1-1 draw in an international friendly at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on Wednesday.
South Africa’s goalkeeper, Thoko Mndaweni, starred by pulling off a superb save, diving to her left, from Ghana captain Florence Okoe in the penalty shootout. She then stepped up to slot the final spot kick to give Banyana the victory.
Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula was on hand to hand over the winner’s trophy to Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini.
‘A good test’
“The Ghana team gave us a good test, and these are the kind of matches we need before we get to London. We created a lot of chances but were not able to convert them,” said Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza.
In a clash played in front of a large crowd in chilly, wet conditions, Banyana showed just how much they have learned and improved by taking on top-class nations at the recent Cyprus Women’s Cup as they took the challenge to Ghana.
The home side, ranked fourth in Africa, was unlucky not to go into the lead after just five minutes of play when striker Andisiwe Mgcoyi rose high to head home past Ghanaian goalkeeper Nana Ama-Asanetewaa, but Zimbabwean referee Pamela Chiwaya ruled that the tall South African forward had infringed on the visitor’s goalkeeper.
With the South Africans looking dangerous on attack, a cross from the right struck the hand of Ghanaian defender Janet Egyir, and from the resulting penalty kick, Banyana Banyana striker Noko Matlou scored her 54th goal in her 69th international appearance as she fired the hosts into the lead in the 22nd minute.
Clearly feeling the effects of several physical challenges from the first half, Ama-Asanetewaa was replaced at the start of the second half by Patricia Mantey, who did well to blunt several South African challenges.
The home side had good opportunities to score more goals, with Mgcoyi presented with two superb close chances which were not capitalized on, while Matlou spooned a header over the cross bar just after half-time.
Ghana managed to find the equaliser seven minutes into the second half, when goalkeeper Mndaweni mistimed a clearance effort which hit Mercy Myles and ended in the back of the South African goal net.
Striker Sanah Mollo and winger Leandra Smeda got into the action in the second half at the expense of Mgcoyi and Mary Ntsweng, but the home side was not able to find the net again in open play.
Refiloe Jane also got on to the park for Banyana Banyana in the fourth minute of optional time in the second half to earn her second cap, taking over from injured team captain Dlamini.
Player of the match
In delivering her usual level of consistency in the South African rearguard, central defender Janine van Wyk collected the Sasol Diski Queen (Player of the Match) award.
After the contest, Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza emphasized that the search is still on for players who can add additional value to the Banyana Banyana campaign at the London Olympics.
“We still have a few training camps coming up, starting with the High Performance Centre in Potchefstroom on Thursday (22 March),” said Mkhonza.
“We will use these camps to work on our finishing because if you look at this match, and the tournament in Cyprus, we failed to score the opportunities we created. But we should be able to rectify these errors by the end of our training camps,” added Mkhonza, who will be conducting workshops and player trials at the Sasol League Road Shows in Polokwane (Saturday, 31 March) and Nelspruit (Saturday, 14 April).
Banyana Banyana’s training camp in Potchefstroom ends on 31 March.
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