The women’s team in the 75th minute to win – but credit must go to the Kenyans
Scored one goal
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.
STYLISH Banyana Banyana’s Shiwe Nogwanya controls the ball during the Olympic qualifier against Kenya at Dobsonville Stadium yesterday