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Matlou’s two for SA

Noko Matlou’s great goal-scoring habit helped Banyana Banyana to a convincing 4-1 win over Zambia in the opening Group B fixture of the COSAFA Women’s Championships played at the Rufaro stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe on Saturday.

The victory is good news ahead of Banyana’s Olympic Games 2012 qualifying duties against Ethiopa in a few weeks time.

Limpopo-based Matlou played a key role in both of SA’s first half strikes that allowed the South Africans to hold a 2-1 lead at the half-time. The striker scored from the penalty spot in the 21st minute after having been tackled to the ground from behind in the Zambian penalty area.

The powerful striker, known by her team-mates as ‘Beep Beep’ because of her speed, produced a well-angled cross from the left hand side of the park seven minutes later, which Zambian Mulayi Wilombe tried to clear away from her goal posts, but could only manage to turn into her own goal net.

On the stroke of half-time, the Zambians managed to get on to the score-sheet, after Mupopo Kabange whisked the ball away from Banyana Banyana midfielder Nomathemba Ntsibande before crossing from the left flank for Etas Banda to score amid a stretched South African defence.

Seven minutes after the restart, Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini fired home after collecting the ball from a corner kick from the right-hand side of the park, and Matlou settled the match in the 61st minute after some fine individual follow-up work.

With the ball at the feet of Zambian No 1 Mirriam Katamanda, Matlou ran 20 metres to provide pressure forcing the goalkeeper to kick the ball wide to the left. The ball went only as far as Banyana Banyana left wing Gabisile ‘China’ Hlumbane, who charged down the left-hand touchline before providing the perfect cross for Matlou to score her 45th goal in┬á 57th international appearance.

Fresh from helping her Palace Super Falcons club to retain the Sasol League National Championship title in Bloemfontein last week, central defender Janine ‘Booth’ van Wyk was in fine form in blunting several Zambian attacks on the goal of Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Thoko ‘TK’ Mndaweni.

ÔÇ£Banyana Banyana played a pressure game, giving the Zambians very little time on the ball and the pressure put on their goalkeeper by Matlou which led to the fourth goal, is an example of the type of discipline and commitment that needs to carry us through the week if we hope to have a chance of lifting the COSAFA Championship title,ÔÇØ said caretaker coach Joseph Mkhonza afterwards.

ÔÇ£We cannot afford to underestimate any team at this COSAFA Championship event and will use these matches as preparation for our home-and-away Olympic Qualifiers against Ethiopia in August and September.ÔÇØ

Banyana Banyana will have just over 24 hours of rest before lacing up their boots for their next Group B fixture ÔÇô against Botswana at the Gwanzura stadium in the Zimbabwe capital on Sunday.