Banyana progress but lack fire­power

The Sunday Independent - - SPORT - MIHLALI BALEKA @Mih­lal­ibaleka

ALTHOUGH they might have rued their missed chances, Banyana Banyana’s 1-1 draw against Zam­bia in the Africa Women’s Cup of Na­tions (Aw­con) was enough to progress them into the semi-fi­nals.

Re­filoe Jane should have put Banyana ahead, how­ever she bal­looned the op­por­tu­nity wide of goal.

Coach De­siree El­lis’ troops took the lead cour­tesy of their best player at the mo­ment, Thembi Kgat­lana, pic­tured.

The Hous­ton Dash striker con­tin­ued with her bril­liant per­for­mances in the Aw­con as she opened the scor­ing in the eighth-minute.

This was Kgat­lana’s fourth goal in the tour­na­ment, while she has also bagged two lady of the match awards.

Fol­low­ing a through-ball from the left wing, Kgat­lana calmly con­trolled the ball just out­side the 18-area be­fore un­leash­ing a thun­der­bolt into the top cor­ner.

How­ever, two min­utes later, that ad­van­tage was cut short as She­p­olopolo lev­elled mat­ters cour­tesy of Rachel Kun­dananji.

The big Zam­bian striker was set up af­ter some good team-play, and she got the bet­ter of goal­keeper Kaylin Swart on her near post.

But did that de­mo­ti­vate the South Africans? No. They con­tin­ued to dom­i­nate the in­ter­change of play in the first half, as they played the ball with more pur­pose in the heart of the mid­field.

Play in the first stanza was orchestrated around right-back Le­bo­hang Ra­malepe. Ra­malepe, who was earn­ing her 51st cap for Banyana, and as a re­sult, she didn’t dis­ap­point as she made pro­duc­tive runs for­ward into mid­field.

How­ever, She­p­olopolo were re­silient in not al­low­ing the South Africans run over them, and their main lady, Kun­dananji was a nui­sance for Banyana’s de­fence.

Early into the se­cond half of the match, Banyana should have, yet again, re­stored their ad­van­tage but their set-piece from close range was too ca­sual.

How­ever, that missed op­por­tu­nity was yet again the South Africans’ wake-up call as they con­trolled play but were let down by their fin­ish­ing.

Into the 65th minute, Kgat­lana should have grabbed her brace as she rounded goal­keeper Hazel Nali but then shot wide of the goal.

That was fol­lowed up by an at­tempt from Re­filoe Jane at close range but she knocked the at­tempt wide off the posts.

Mean­while, also in group B, Nige­ria Su­per Fal­cons en­sured that they bagged their last-four spot as they beat Equa­to­rial Guinean 6-0 in the last match of the group stage.

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