In the shoot-out, Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni pulled off a superb save, diving to her left to keep out the strike from Ghana captain Florence Okoe, to give the home side the edge. The South African No 1 then stepped up to slot home Banyana Banyana’s final spot kick to claim the honours.
The match, an initiative of Sport and Recreation SA to commemorate the International Women’s Month as well as the Human Rights Day, was supported by SAFA and Sasol.
Minister of Sport and Recreation SA, the Honourable Fikile Mbalula was one of the dignitaries in attendance, and was on hand to hand over the trophy to Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini.
In a clash played in front of a large crowd in chilly, wet conditions, the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana showed just how much they have learnt and improved by taking on top class nations at the recent Cyprus Women’s Cup, as they took the challenge to Ghana – ranked 2nd in Africa, compared to the 4th placing of the hosts.
The home side was unlucky not to go into the lead after just five minutes of play in the first half, when striker Andisiwe Mgcoyi rose high to head home past Ghanaian goalkeeper Nana Ama-Asanetewaa, but Zimbabwean referee Pamela Chiwaya ruled that the tall South African forward had infringed on the visitor’s goalkeeper.
With the South Africans looking lethal on the attack, a cross from the right struck the hand of Ghanaian defender Janet Egyir, and from the resulting penalty kick, Banyana Banyana striker Noko Matlou scored her 54th goal in her 69th international appearance as she fired the hosts into the lead in the 22nd minute.
Clearly feeling the effects of several physical challenges from the first half, Ama-Asanetewaa was replaced at the start of the second half by Patricia Mantey, who did well to blunt several Banyana Banyana challenges.
The South African side had sufficient goal-scoring opportunities to score more goals, with Mgcoyi presented with two superb close chances which were not capitalized on, while Matlou spooned a header over the cross bar just after half-time.
Ghana managed to find the equalizer seven minutes into the second half, when goalkeeper Mndaweni mistimed a clearance effort which hit Mercy Myles and ended in the back of the South African goal net.
Bloemfontein Celtics (Sasol League Free State) striker Sanah Mollo and Cape Town Roses (Sasol League Western Cape) wing Leandra Smeda got into the action in the second half at the expense of Mgcoyi and Mary Ntsweng, but the home side were not able to find the net again in open play.
Refiloe Jane also got on to the park for Banyana Banyana in the 4th minute of optional time in the second half to earn her second cap, taking over from injured team captain Dlamini.
In delivering her usual level of consistency in the Banyana Banyana rearguard, central defender Janine van Wyk collected the Sasol Diski Queen (Player of the Match) award.
Banyana Banyana national head coach Joseph Mkhonza emphasized that the search is still on for players who can add additional value to the Banyana Banyana campaign at the London Olympics.
“The Ghana team gave us a good test, and these are the kind of matches we need before we get to London. We created a lot of chances but were not able to convert them. We still have a few training camps coming up – starting with the High Performance Centre in Potchefstroom on Thursday (22 March). We will use these camps to work on our finishing because if you look at this match, and the tournament in Cyprus, we failed to score the opportunities we created. But we should be able to rectify these errors by the end of our training camps,” said Mkhonza, who will be conducting coaches’ workshops and player trials at the Sasol League Road Shows in Polokwane, Limpopo (Saturday, 31 March) and Nelspruit, Mpumalanga (Saturday, 14 April).