Banyana Banyana, South Africa’s national female football squad, has secured its place in the semifinals of the 2010 CAF African Women's Championship after a emphatic 4-0 win over Mali.
The match was played at the Sinaba Stadium in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg, on 7 November.
Banyana, which had to draw or win the game against Mali to qualify for the semis, will take on Cameroon on 11 November, also at the Sinaba Stadium.
If the South Africans win that match, they will go through to the final on 14 November, to be played at the same venue.
Both finalists will get to represent the continent at the 2011 Fifa Women's World Cup in Germany in June next year.
Mali and South Africa entered the recent duel with three points each, after both losing to Nigeria and beating Tanzania. Although Banyana held an advantage on goal difference, it didn’t need this as it won the 7 November game convincingly.
After being defeated by Nigeria 2-1 on 4 November, four changes were made to the Banyana team before it took on Mali.
The West Africans withstood Banyana’s onslaught for 30 minutes in the first half, until South Africa’s Amanda Dlamini made the breakthrough in the 31st minute when she headed into the net from a corner.
Seven minutes later, Skiti Nocawe fired straight at Mali goalkeeper Samake Goundo after going through the defence, missing a chance to double Banyana’s lead before half time.
Mali came back stronger after the break, chasing the win the needed to advance to the semis. Banyana stood strong and were almost rewarded, but Nocawe once again aimed at the goalkeeper.
With only 13 minutes remaining, Banyana scored three consecutive goals to send them cruising into the semis. Dlamini knocked in an easy second after substitute Jermaine Seoposenwe found space on the right wing and crossed the ball directly to her.
The Malians’ seemed to lose steam after the second goal, but Banyana continued the onslaught, with Seoposenwe slotting in Banyana's third goal from close range.
Banyana, made it 4-0 in the last minute when Amanda Sister scrambled the ball into the net.
Banyana captain Nthabeleng Modiko said: “Our fans are always behind us whether we are playing well or not, and that works well to boost our confidence.”
South African coach Augustine Makalakalane had nothing but praise for his team after the win.
“Banyana Banyana created a host of scoring chances today and managed to capitalise on many of them. I am delighted that we are through to the semifinals of the CAF African Women Championship 2010,” he said.
Banyana got off to a great campaign on 31 October, winning their first match against Tanzania 2-1 at the Daveyton venue.
Midfield sensation Mamello Makhabane was the heroine of that clash after scoring the winning goal towards the end of the match.
Mkhabane converted a penalty in the 84th minute to take Banyana to the top of the group.
Banyana played well from the start, with striker Mamphashe Popela scoring in the 34th minute after connecting with a cross from Makhabane.
But the glory was short-lived because the Twiga Stars, as the Tanzanians are known, equalised in the 42nd minute through Fatuma Bashiri, who collected a pass from Shurua Mwanahamis and fired a thunderous shot past goalkeeper Thoko Mndwaweni.
Makalakalane said of this game: “We played well and are happy with the win to ease the pressure in the camp. The Tanzanians played with a completely different style to when Banyana beat them 6-0 in a friendly international in July."
Slight hitch along the way
The setback came when Nigeria beat Banyana in their second game of the championship, also played in Daveyton.
The Nigerians, nicknamed the Super Falcons, scored two goals in the first half thanks to Perpetua Nkwocha – this brought her tally to five goals in two games. She had previously scored three goals in the Mali game on 1 November.
But not all was lost: Janine van Wyk pulled one back for Banyana through a free kick late in the first half, giving the 20 000-strong crowd something to cheer about.
In the culmination of the Group B games; Cameroon beat Algeria 2 – 1 at Makhulong Stadium, in Tembisa, setting up a semifinal clash with Nigeria; while Ghana were hammered 3 – 1 by defending champs Equatorial Guinea at Sinaba Stadium in Daveyton, making it an interesting semifinal clash against Banyana.
R1-million incentive to win
The South African Football Association (Safa) has promised Banyana R1-million (U$145 441) if they win the tournament, according to its CEO, Lesley Sedibe.
If they are defeated, the squad will still get R500 000 ($72 720) for reaching the finals.
"We wish them good luck and are confident they will reach the final to qualify for the 2011 Fifa Women's World Cup in Germany," said Sedibe.
“I hope the incentives will inspire the team to do well,” he added.
More about the CAF Women's Championship
The CAF Women's Championship, which this year runs from 31 October to 14 November, is held every two years for national football teams belonging to the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The first African women’s championship was played in 1991, making this year’s tournament the ninth edition.
The Nigerians have won it seven times and Equatorial Guinea once. Five of the tournaments have been played in South Africa, three in Nigeria and one in Equatorial Guinea.