Pretoria — Banyana Banyana have booked a place in the semi-finals of the CAF African Women's Championship after outplaying the Democratic Republic of Congo 4-1 in their final Group A fixture in Bata, Equatorial Guinea on Saturday.
A hat-trick of goals from tall Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies striker Andisiwe Mgcoyi paved the way for a win that has set the Sasol-sponsored South African senior national women's team up for semifinal action at the same venue on Wednesday with Group B log leaders and Africa's number one, Nigeria.
Cape Town Roses attacker Leandra Smeda brought into the side on the right wing in place of Nocawe Skiti put the South Africans ahead as early as the 3rd minute, as she tapped home a square ball range, delivered by team captain Amanda Dlamini.
Seven minutes later, Mgcoyi had an easy tap-in goal, finishing off a cross from the right from striker Jermaine Seoposenwe.
The South Africans could easily have been 5-0 by the break, but increased their advantage in the second half.
Mgcoyi carved a cross through the Congolese defence before firing home three minutes after the break, and scored again from close range in the 57th minute.
The Congolese scored a consolation goal against the run of play in the 88th minute via defender Jolie Tutzolana who fired the ball home from 18m out, with South African goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni having no chance of pulling off a save.
Banyana Banyana went into the game needing a draw or win to secure their spot in the semifinals, but national head coach Joseph Mkhonza can be proud of the effort put in by his players on the slippery Nkoantoma stadium surface following light rain leading up to the match.
"We have now qualified for the knock-out stages of the competition, for us this means anything is possible. Any team that has made it to the semi-finals has a chance of proceeding to the final stage of the tournament.
"We came to this tournament knowing at some stage that we would meet one of the power houses of women's football on the continent. If you have to be the best, you have to play the best. We are here to make a statement." said Mkhonza.
Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini said making it this far in the tournament would mean facing some of the strongest teams on the continent, but they are up for the challenge.
"Now that we've made it this far in the tournament, we want to play our own game taking into fact that we will face tough opposition being amongst the top four," said Dlamini.