15 October 2012
South Africa’s preparations for the Confederation of African Football’s (Caf) African Women’s Championship, which kicks off in Equatorial Guinea on 28 October, continued on a good note when a goal by captain Amanda Dlamini saw Banyana Banyana defeat Zimbabwe 1-0 in an international friendly at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.
After the game, South Africa’s coach Joseph Mkhonza said it had been a useful outing. “The Zimbabweans are always a tough side to play, either at home or away, but the match gave us an opportunity to try out several combinations ahead of the Caf African Women’s Championship,” he said.
The narrow win ended Banyana Banyana’s a recent run of reverses against their northern neighbours, with the Zimbabweans having won in Harare in the Cosafa Cup final and the Unity Day celebrations last year.
Dlamini’s winning goal came six minutes into the second half from a neat cross by second half substitute Silindile Ngubane, who was making her debut for the national team.
The Durban Ladies’ striker made a good impression on her first appearance for the national team, adding more thrust to the South African attack after replacing Nocawe Skiti.
It was close, though, and the fact that Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni pulled off several superb saves to deny the Zimbabweans from equalising, and was deservedly named as the Sasol Diski Queen (Player of the Match), told its own story.
Banyana face Zimbabwe on Tuesday again, just two weeks ahead of the continent’s most important women’s football tournament, the Caf African Women’s Championship.
South Africa have been drawn in Group A and will face hosts Equatorial Guinea in Malabo on 28 October, Senegal in Malabo on 31 October, and will travel to the island city of Bata for their encounter with DR Congo on 3 November.
The top two teams from the two pools will advance to the semi-finals, which will be played in Malabo and Bata on 7 November. Malabo will host the final and third place playoff on 11 November.
Nigeria will be defending the title they won for an eighth time in 2010 in South Africa. Only Equatorial Guinea, the champions in 2008, have also won the African Women’s Championship.
South Africa has finished in the runner-up position three times and taken third place twice.
In the lead-up to the Olympics, Banyana Banyana played defending champions, Nigeria, home and away. They drew 1-1 in Rustenburg and shared a goalless draw in Lagos, which is cause for optimism.
With the lessons learnt from the Olympics, where South Africa was in a pool with 2011 Fifa Women’s World Cup winners, Japan, then number four ranked Sweden, and seventh-ranked Canada, who went on to win the bronze medal after losing to eventual champions, the USA, in extra time, coach Mkhonza is hoping his team will be able to make the final step up and move beyond the runners-up tag in Equatorial Guinea.
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