BANYANA Banyana have been left with much homework to do after Botswana ended their seven-match winning streak with a 1-0 result in an All-Africa Games first leg qualifier played at the old Peter Makaba Stadium in Polokwane, Limpopo today.
After several raids on the home team’s goal area, Thuto Ramafifi silenced the crowd in the 26th minute when she found space on the right hand side of the park before beating Banyana Banyana’s debutant goalkeeper Andile Dlamini with a well-angled shot.
The teams will meet in the second leg qualifier in Gaborone on May 14 with the team with the higher goals aggregate after the two matches set to compete at the All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique in September this year.
Banyana Banyana made the trip to Polokwane without the services of injured players in goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni, experienced central defenders Janine van Wyk and Yola Jafta, and midfielders Mamello Makhabane and Nocawe Skiti, and the replacements took time to settle against a determined Botswana side.
The host’s restructured team saw regular right back Simphiwe Masina shifted into the centre of defence alongside Amanda Sister, while Nothando Vilakazi and Gabisile ‘China’ Hlumbane guarded the flanks.
Hlumbane – a fine footballer equally at home in passing with both feet – has played midfield anchor, left wing, left back and right back in her past four appearances, and showed the commitment required. The Kovsies FC (Sasol League Free State) player was deservedly named as the Sasol Diski Queen (Player of the Match).
Banyana Banyana caretaker coach Joseph Mkhonza restructured the Banyana Banyana attack shortly before the interval with the experienced Busisiwe Ndimeni replacing Cape Town Roses striker Andisiwe Mgcoyi. Ten minutes into the second half, Mkhonza changed his youth brigade pair of midfielders, with Rachel Sebati coming on for Robyn Moodaly.
Luck was not with the home team on the day, with Vilakazi producing a superb run in the 10th minute and after rounding the defence, her left-footed effort came back off into play off the crossbar. Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini played bravely despite suffering from influenza and her gliding header 12 minutes from full time ended just wide of the Botswana goalpost.
“In soccer it’s all about scoring and we had our chances but could not score today,” said Mkhonza afterwards. The defeat was his first in seven matches since taking charge of the senior women’s national team.
“We have been working hard on goal scoring in training but it didn’t happen for us today and we will continue to give focus to this important area when we return to the training pitch,” said Mkhonza
Besides the return fixture against Botswana, the South Africans also have home-and-away match dates with Ethiopia in August, to decide which of these nations will qualify to compete at the 2012 London Olympics-SAFA website