Banyana tops in Tunis | SASCOC - SASCOC

Banyana tops in Tunis

Banyana Banyana survived a thrilling 6-5 penalty shoot out to see off Tunisia in an Olympic Games qualifier second-leg fixture played in cold conditions at the Olympique d’el Menzah Stadium in Tunis on Sunday.

All of Noko Matlau, Yola Jafta, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Gabisile Hlumbane, goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni and Kylie Ann Louw scored, with Mndaweni pulling off a save with her legs from the sixth Tunisian penalty kick taken.

The match was forced into extra time after Tunisia’s Imene Troudi scored from the penalty spot ÔÇô the result after the ball struck the hand of Banyana Banyana birthday girl Janine van Wyk in a crowded penalty area with two minutes of the match official’s optional time remaining in the second half. This cancelled out the 1-0 lead that the South Africans had built from the first leg played in Durban on April 2.

In holding off the Tunisian challenge, Banyana Banyana now find themselves in a group of four teams, and will play home and away matches against the other three nations, with the top two sides in the group qualifying to represent Africa at the 2012 London Olympics.

National caretaker coach Joseph Mkhonza made two changes to his starting line-up. Experienced midfielder Mamello Makhabane returned to the side after missing the match in Durban due to a groin strain, while midfielder Hlumbane shifted to the left back position ÔÇô preferred ahead of Nothando Vilakazi.

The first half saw the visitors under severe pressure for lengthily periods, but  Van Wyk, who plays for Sasol League National Champions Palace Super Falcons in Gauteng, stood firm alongside tough tackling, Port Elizabeth-based teenager Amanda Sister in the heart of the Banyana Banyana defence. Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Mndaweni saw far too much of the ball for the liking of the coaching staff and the group of Tunisian-based South Africans present in the stadium, but she performed admirably in the chilly conditions.

Banyana Banyana’s best chance in the first period fell to Russian-based midfielder Nyandeni, whose curling right-footed effort had the perfect angle to beat Tunisian goalkeeper and captain Rabia Gargouch, before returning into play off the crossbar.

In-form striker Matlou also had a superb chance to score from less than five metres out after the Tunisian defenders failed to clear the ball in a crowded penalty area, but the centre forward’s close range effort struck goalkeeper Gargouch and deflected away from the danger area.

In the second 45 minutes of play, Banyana Banyana came more into the game but adopted a cautious approach in order to ensure that they would not be caught out for pace against the run of play.

ÔÇ£Our plan was to finish the match in the 90 and then 120 minutes but it did not work out and all credit to the Banyana Banyana players for hanging in when it counted most in the chilly conditions,ÔÇØ said national caretaker coach Mkhonza afterwards.