Noko stars for Banyana | SASCOC - SASCOC

Noko stars for Banyana

Goal-hungry Noko Matlou scored her fifth goal in as many matches to see Banyana Banyana to run out 1-0 winners over Tunisia in an Olympic Qualifier first leg fixture, played in front of a large crowd at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi, near Durban on Saturday.

The goal, scored two minutes into the second period after a fine run on the right by Matlou, ended with her netting past a despairing Tunisian goalkeeper and captain Rabia Gargouch. The strike could be worth its weight in gold, as the South Africans prepare to pack their bags for the return leg in Tunisia on April 17.

The few chances that went the way of the Tunisian strikers were neatly dealt with by the Banyana Banyana defence with the central combination of back-from-injury Janine van Wyk and Amanda Sister, up to the task of seeing off any changes in front of goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni.

Banyana Banyana had the majority of the possession in a goalless first half, with home team national caretaker coach Joseph Mkhonza opting to re-align his midfield with regular central anchor Gabisile ‘China’ Hlumbane starting on the left wing.

Hlumbane, who plays her football for Kovsies FC in the Free State Sasol League, took the opportunity on offer and was a constant threat to the Tunisians.

Matlou had the ball in the back of the goal-net after 15 minutes of play, after some fine work on the left flank by Hlumbane, but the goal was disallowed, adjudged offside.

Towards the end of the first half, Hlambane swapped flanks with Russian-based Mpumelelo Nyandeni with Texas, USA-based Kylie Ann Louw and Nomathemba Ntsibande controlling 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 ‘heart and soul’-like performance, blunting several Tunisian raids.

Second half Banyana Banyana substitutions saw 16-year-old Robyn Moodley earning her third senior international cap in taking over from Louw, and midfielder Jermaine Seoposenwe replacing Hlumbane. In the dying moments of the match, defensive midfielder Yola Jafta replaced team captain Amanda Dlamini as the coach reinforced the midfield allowing Matlou and Seoposenwe to be ever alert for any goal-scoring chances that may come the way of the hosts.

The victory was the fifth consecutive triumph, since Mkhonza took charge of the national senior women’s team shortly before Christmas last year.