Banyana win first Olympic qualifier
19 January 2011
Banyana Banyana defeated Zambia 2-1 at the Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka on Saturday in their opening qualifier for the 2012 London Olympic Games. The teams will meet again in Umlazi near Durban on 29 January.
It was a second win in succession for caretaker coach Joseph Mkhonza, who has replaced Augustine Makalakalane, who has been axed by the South African Football Association. Banyana were 3-0 winners over Zimbabwe in December in his first match in charge.
Despite the absence of five players because of injury, the match was dominated by South Africa, although the scoreboard didn't reflect that fact. A slippery pitch, caused by light rain early in the contest, proved to be a great equaliser.
There were no goals in the first half, although Zambia squandered a good opportuny to score when striker Gift Lisaka beat the off-side trap. Sent clear, with only goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni to beat, she lacked composure and fired well clear of the goalie's right-hand post.
South Africa's breakthrough came 23 minutes into the second half when Nompumelelo Nyandeni, who plies her trade for Russian club Rissvank FC, broke the deadlock.
With just five minutes to go, Banyana doubled their advantage through 2009 African Women's Player of the Year Noko Matlou.
She made an excellent run down the right, cut back inside and neatly steered her shot into the back of the net.
The contest appeared over, but Zambia shocked South Africa two minutes later when they pulled one back.
They were awarded a penalty 30 metres out from the South African goal and Kabange Mupopo did the damage by lashing the ball past goalkeeper Mndadweni’s despairing dive to reduce the deficit.
Commenting on his charges' performance, coach Mkhonza told The Sowetan: "We were impressed by the girls' performance and commitment throughout the match.
"The only concern was their failure to convert chances. We created many chances, off which we could have scored six goals, but instead we settled for two.
He added: "In terms of defence and ball possession, we did well.
"The four players who were roped in at the last minute because of the withdrawal of the injured five made a good impression.
"In relation to the team for the second leg, it will depend on the fitness and availability of players. This time around we will call 25 players instead of the required 18."
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