14 September 2017 – Banyana Banyana got off to a flying start in the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship when they defeated Lesotho 3-0 in the opening match of the tournament.
The clash took place on Thursday, 14 September at Luveve Stadium in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Lesotho started very well and made life difficult for South Africa as they denied them any chance to playing their football. Banyana Banyana soldiered on and was able to go to the half time break with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a Leandra Smeda strike after she spotted Lesotho goalkeeper Lefaphana Mosilinyane off her line in the 28th minute.
South Africa Interim head coach Desiree Ellis made two changes at the start of the second stanza – bringing on Thembi Kgatlana and Kholosa Biyana for Nwabisa Kolisi and Rachel Sebati respectively.
The move proved correct as Banyana Banyana now played with more purpose.
They could have increased their lead in the 57th minute after Rhoda Mulaudzi sent in a cross but Smeda’s shot hit the crossbar and Chantelle Esau ballooned the rebound.
The goal did come however ten minutes later – Mulaudzi again the provider and Esau finished off coolly past the advancing goalkeeper.
It was game set and match in the 73rd minute when Kgatlana outpaced the Lesotho defence and scored past Mosilinyane to make it 3-0 for South Africa.
Ellis then took off Esau for Koketso Tlailane, who became the third capped player for Banyana Banyana after Regina Mogolola and Biyana.
Lesotho did have chances of their own but South Africa was resolute in defence.
Banyana Banyana almost grabbed the fourth in referee’s optional time but the crossbar again denied Smeda.
“We are happy with the result but we didn’t play as well as we know we can, first games are always difficult but at the end of the day we got a win, and that gives us a step forward. We got the result and that’s the most important thing,” said Ellis.
“Tonight we will have a good look at our match against Lesotho and see how we can improve the team. There are no easy games as we all saw against our opponents today. It’s not that we underestimated them, but we just struggled to find each other. We were able, however, to create opportunities and had we converted them the game would have gone much easier.”
South Africa will not have much time to rest as they face Namibia on Friday, 15 September at Barbourfields Stadium.
Kickoff is at 16h30.
“It’s difficult for any team to play back to back, but if we manage our players well we should be fine. We will now go for recovery and prepare for the next game because this one (Lesotho) is behind us. It is still a long way to go and we will play each game as it comes and not look too far ahead,” added Ellis.
“We will now go and plan for Namibia. We have played them often enough and we know a lot about them – the last time we played them was in 2014, we have also watched them play in this tournament and we cant take anything lightly.”
Namibia currently leads Group C due to goal difference. They are tied on three points with South Africa – Namibia defeated Botswana 4-0 on Wednesday, 13 September.
This is how they lined up:
Banyana Banyana starting 11 vs Lesotho:
Andile Dlamini (GK), Lebohang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Regina Mogolola, Rachel Sebati (Kholosa Biyana), Nwabisa Kolisi (Thembi Kgatlana), Bambanani Mbane, Refiloe Jane (C), Leandra Smeda, Rhoda Mulaudzi, Chantelle Esau (Koketso Tlailane)
Roxanne Barker (GK), Yolula Tsawe (GK), Noko Matlou, Zanele Nhlapo, Koketso Tlailane, Nkoikoi Mabina, Thembi Kgatlana, Kholosa Biyana, Nompumelelo Nyandeni
Interim Head Coach: Desiree Ellis