The women’s team in the 75th minute to win – but credit must go to the Kenyans

Scored one goal

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI at Dob­sonville Sta­dium ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

This is not how late for­mer state pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela would have wanted Banyana Banyana to celebrate his day – they made an easy game look dif­fi­cult, par­tic­u­larly in the open­ing 67 min­utes. They had ev­ery­thing go­ing for them – Kenya ar­rived only on the morn­ing of the game be­cause of prob­lems with en­try visas and the crowd was be­hind the lo­cal team all the way.

Banyana could only register a hard-fought 1-0 vic­tory over Kenya. But the to­tal score could easily have been higher in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games qual­i­fier.

They failed to celebrate Man­dela Day in style and may rue the chances they missed when they get to the re­turn leg.

Af­ter fail­ing to use home ground ad­van­tage to earn a con­vinc­ing win, the South African se­nior women’s na­tional team will have a moun­tain to climb when they visit Kenya in a fort­night’s time.

Banyana had no busi­ness get­ting a win by such a slen­der mar­gin.

Af­ter all, they had all the ad­van­tages. The visi­tors ar­rived in the coun­try on the day of the match, with no time to set­tle in or ac­cli­ma­tise. Banyana, how­ever, spent the match huff­ing and puff­ing.

They needed a goal by Le­bo­hang Ra­malepe in the 75th minute to fi­nally register their name on the score sheet.

Banyana missed end­less scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, but credit should go to the visi­tors. The Kenyans gave noth­ing away and showed lit­tle re­spect for the hosts.

The South Africans started well, tak­ing the game to the visi­tors. But the pair on the front line, Sanah Mollo and Silindile Ngubane, fluffed any chances that came their way.

Vis­it­ing goal­keeper Poline Owino on the other hand, had an ex­cel­lent game and man­aged to thwart most of Banyana’s chances.

She would have been dis­ap­pointed, though, when she con­ceded an easy goal that needed a rou­tine catch.

South Africa ben­e­fited from her mis­take, though, the goal mak­ing the only dif­fer­ence at the end of the day.

And as hard as they tried, Banyana could not find an in­sur­ance goal as Kenya de­fended all ef­forts in their num­bers.

Un­like the game yesterday, the re­turn leg in Kenya should be more open. Kenya will have to take the game to Banyana in an at­tempt to re­verse the score.

That should open gaps at the back, which could be what Banyana need.

But if yesterday’s show­ing is how Banyana play at the Machakos Sta­dium in Nairobi, they may as well kiss their chances of qual­i­fy­ing for their sec­ond suc­ces­sive Olympics good­bye.

Coach Vera Pauw’s charges lacked the spark they showed when they beat Gabon and Botswana with ease.

With their neme­sis, Nige­ria’s Su­per Fal­cons, ly­ing in wait for them in the next and fi­nal round, Banyana will have to dou­ble their ef­forts to con­vert their chances.

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACKPAGEPIX

STYLISH Banyana Banyana’s Shiwe Nog­wanya con­trols the ball dur­ing the Olympic qual­i­fier against Kenya at Dob­sonville Sta­dium yesterday

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