Noko Matlou scored her fifth goal in as many matches to give Banyana Banyana a 1-0 win over Tunisia in an Olympic qualifier at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi, Durban, on Saturday.
Matlou found the net in the 47th minute, after a solo run on the right flank. The South African goal queen took advantage of the slow proceedings at the start of the second stanza and caught the Tunisians with a burst of speed and power.
Even the despearte cries for intervention by the visitors’ goalkeeper and captain Rabia Gargouch could not help as Matlou easily beat her. The goal gives Banyana a slight advantage as they prepare for the trip to north Africa for the second leg on April 17.
It would have been a far different picture had Banyana converted their massive ball possession into goals, especially in the first half. In the 15th minute Matlou had the ball in the back of the net, after some fine work on the left flank by Gabisile “China” Hlumbane, but her effort was ruled offside.
The home defence however was outstanding as Janine van Wyk and Amanda Sister took leadership at the back. SA goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni was up to the task.
Even more positive was that Banyana registered their fifth since new coach Joseph Mkhonza took over from August Makalakalane in December.
Mkhonza re-aligned his midfield, opting to throw in Hlumbane from the first whistle to control the traffic for the home side. The Free State starlet, who plays her football for Kovsies FC in the Free State Sasol League, was thrilled with the opportunity as became Tunisia’s nightmare on a hot Durban afternoon.
Mkhonza confused the visitors even further when late in the first half he Hlumbane swap flanks with Russian-based Mpumelelo Nyandeni. The Texas–based Kylie Ann Louw and Nomathemba Ntsibande to control matters in the middle of the park.
Gauteng-based Ntsibande, who was recalled to the Banyana Banyana squad after a fine showing for her club Springs Home Sweepers during the Sasol League (Gauteng) Road Show held in Randfontein in December last year, gave another top draw display.
Apart from the early goal, other notables in the second half is that 16-year-old Robyn Moodaly earned her third senior international cap as she replaced Louw. Another teen, Jermaine Seoposengwe, replaced Hlumbane.
Strongly built defensive midfielder Yola Jafta also replaced team captain Amanda Dlamini very late in the match.