Banyana progress but lack firepower
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.