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Banyana win and qualify
- Updated: June 17, 2012
London Olympics-bound Banyana Banyana celebrated Saturday’s Youth Day in style by qualifying for the 2012 African Women Championship which will be held in Equatorial Guinea in November this year.
The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana scored a thrilling 2-1 victory (6-2 on aggregate) over Zambia in the second leg qualifier played at the Kanyamazane Stadium near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.
Banyana Banyana won the first leg fixture 4-1 in Lusaka two weeks ago.
Portia Modise continued her prolific goal-scoring form by netting her 70th goal in her 91st appearance for the national team. The goal came in the 18th minute.
The Palace Super Falcons (Sasol League Gauteng) striker scored from an unchallenged position after receiving a cross from the left from Leandra Smeda. The Zambia defence failed to mark Modise, clearly waiting for the match official’s whistle for an off-side ruling on Modise, but the goal stood.
The Zambians struck back almost immediately through a goal from Mwila Bowa in the 20th minute after the South African defence failed to clear their lines.
With both sides creating a series of scoring opportunities, fans were treated to an action-packed encounter, and it was Modise who restored South Africa’s lead with a powerfully-struck left-footed effort two minutes into the second half.
Despite holding a clear four goal advantage based on match aggregate, Banyana Banyana head coach Joseph Mkhonza kept up the attack, reinforcing the strikeforce with Noko Matlou taking over from Sanah Mollo 15 minutes into the second half, and teenage winger Jermaine Seoposenwe replacing Russian-based Nompumelelo Nyandeni a few minutes earlier.
Nyandeni’s attacks down the right flank had been a thorn in the Zambian flesh all afternoon creating much pressure on the visitors’ midfield and fullback.
Kovsies FC (Sasol League Free State) midfielder Gabisile Hlumbane got a run for the final 10 minutes of the match on the left wing at the expense of Smeda and showed a few classy touches.
“It’s a good feeling having qualified for this tournament. I am happy with the effort of the team and the different combinations we tried. It’s also good to see that all the players we fielded today put up a good fight,” said Banyana had coach Joseph Mkhonza.
“As I’ve always said, it’s not always good to rely on certain players but to also give others an equal opportunity to play. Now we need to focus on building certain areas like goal scoring. We missed plenty of opportunities but then again scoring goals is a process and we hope by the time we get to the Olympics we’ll be ready.ÔÇØ
“This was our last game at home now we need to focus on the mission ahead and prepare ourselves for London. Today’s game was not as high profile as playing against the likes of Scotland or even Nigeria, so we need to focus on getting out heads into the game as the upcoming matches will require a lot more hard work and team effort.”
The South Africans will continue with their Olympic preparations when they take on Nigeria in an international friendly fixture in Lagos next Saturday.
Modise has now scored five goals in four matches, and she was named Diski queen of the match.
“We managed to play well but there is still room for improvement. It’s good that we are playing as a unit and I am happy with the performance. I would like to thank my teammates for enabling us strikers to score, and I am also delighted that my return to the national team is benefitting Banyana Banyana because this is not about me but the whole team,” said Modise.