5 November 2012
Banyana Banyana booked themselves a place in the semi-finals of the 2012 African Women’s Championship by outplaying the Democratic Republic of Congo 4-1 in their final Group A fixture in Bata, Equatorial Guinea on Saturday.
A hat-trick of goals from tall Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies’ striker Andisiwe Mgcoyi paved the way for a win that has set the Sasol-sponsored South African senior national women’s team up for a semi-final showdown at the same venue on Wednesday against the top team from Group B, Nigeria, who are ranked number one in Africa.
When the teams met earlier this year, home and away, they played to draws on both occasions.
Progressed in style
Banyana Banyana went into Saturday’s game needing a draw or win to secure a place spot in the semi-finals. They progressed in style despite playing on a slippery surface at the Nkoantoma Stadium after light rain fell in the lead-up to the match.
“We have now qualified for the knock-out stages of the competition,” coach Joseph Mkhonza said afterwards.
“For us this means anything is possible. Any team that has made it to the semi-finals has a chance of proceeding to the final stage of the tournament.”
‘To be the best, you have to play the best’
Looking ahead to the clash against Nigeria, he commented: “We came to this tournament knowing at some stage that we would meet one of the powerhouses of women’s football on the continent. If you have to be the best, you have to play the best. We are here to make a statement.”
Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini said she feels her team is up for the challenge posed by the Nigerians.
“Coming into this tournament we knew if we wanted to compete in the semi-finals, we are bound to meet the African powerhouses of women’s football. Now that we’ve made it this far in the tournament, we want to play our own game, taking into fact that we will face tough opposition being amongst the top four,” she said.
Cape Town Roses attacker Leandra Smeda, who was brought into the side on the right wing in place of Nocawe Skiti, put the South Africans ahead as early as the third minute when she tapped home a square ball delivered by team captain Amanda Dlamini.
Seven minutes later, Mgcoyi had an easy tap-in goal, finishing off a cross from the right from striker Jermaine Seoposenwe.
The South Africans could easily have been 5-0 up by the break, but had to wait until the second half to increase their advantage. Mgcoyi carved a cross through the Congolese defence before firing home three minutes after the break, and scored again from close range in the 57th minute.
The Congolese scored a consolation goal against the run of play in the 88th minute via defender Jolie Tutzolana who fired the ball home from 18m out, leaving South African goalkeeper Thoko Mnadweni without a chance of pulling off a save.
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