Banyana's African dream ended
12 November 2010
Banyana Banyana's dream of making the final of the African Women's Championship on home soil was ended in extra time by defending champions Equatorial Guinea at the Sinaba Stadium in Daveyton on Thursday.
After a goalless regulation 90 minutes, the teams played two extra halves of 15 minutes and South Africa's challenge fell apart as Equatorial Guinea scored three goals before the home side found a late consolation goal to lose 3-1.
The loss means South Africa miss out on a place at the 2011 Fifa Women's World Cup, with the finalists, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria, earning the right to represent Africa in Germany. The same two teams met in the final of the African Women's Championship two years ago.
Banyana enjoyed the lions' share of possession in the opening half and they also had the best opportunity of the game to score in regulation time.
It fell to Amanda Dlamini deep inside the West Africans' goal box. It almost looked easier to score than to miss but, with only goalkeeper Silva Paixao to beat, Dlamini fired weakly to the keepers' right and Paixao was able to parry the shot with her legs.
Janine "Booth" van Wyk then tested the goalie with a well-taken free kick from far out, but Paixao tipped the ball over the crossbar.
For all South Africa's advantage in possession, most of the play took place in the middle of the field, with both sides lacking a cutting edge near the goals.
The momentum began to shift towards Equatorial Guinea in the second half. They successfully blunted Banyana's attacks and threatened through their big, physical striker Salimata Simpore, but the South African defence, well marshalled by Van Wyk, kept her off the scoresheet.
With time almost up, Banyana came close to winning the game, but Dlamini was denied by the goalkeeper and the match went into extra time.
It looked like more of the same stalemate, with neither team really threatening to break the deadlock until the 12th minute when it all changed.
Van Wyk slipped up in defence and handed possession to Simpore, right in the middle of the box. She calmly slotted the ball wide of goalkeeper Mndaweni Thoko Zile and into the South African net to put the champions ahead.
Six minutes later, Banyana Banyana found themselves firmly on the back foot when South African captain Simphiwe Dludlu netted an own goal.
Equatorial Guinea had broken down the right flank, but the cross was made more out of hope than anything else, with five South African defenders and only one attacker in the box. Dludlu caught the ball at an awkward height, however, and steered it past Zile's right and into the net.
A game that had been so evenly contested was suddenly running away from South Africa and it got worse when Simpore struck with a coolly taken second.
There was some consolation two minutes from time for South Africa when Dlamini found the back of the net, but it was a very small consolation for Augustine Makalakalane and his charges.
Super Falcons flying high
In the earlier semi-final, Nigeria cruised into the final with a 5-1 thrashing of Cameroon.
The Super Falcons dominated from the start and Cameroon were forced into some desperate defending. That hurt them when Cathy Bou Djouh was shown a second yellow card in the 27th minute, which was automatically followed by a red, leaving Cameroon with only 10 players.
It was an easy win for Nigeria after that. Perpetua Nkwocha fired a hat-trick to take her tally in the tournament to 10 goals in only four matches, which improved her own record, set in 2004, by one.
Desire Oparanozie lent good support with two goals of her own, while Jeannette Grace Ngock struck early in the second half for Cameroon to make it 2-1.
South Africa will face Cameroon in the playoff for third and fourth on Sunday at 10am at the Sinaba Stadium. The final takes place at the same venue at 2pm.
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