25 September 2017

South Africa: Banyana Crowned Cosafa Champions in Zimbabwe

Banyana Banyana are winners of the 2017 COSAFA Women's Championship after defeating Zimbabwe 2-1 on at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on Sunday.

Two goals in either half, by Thembi Kgatlana and Leandra Smeda, were enough to see South Africa lift the trophy for the fourth time - along with victories in 2002, 2006, 2008, 2017 - and they only missed out in the final in 2011, going down 1-0 to Zimbabwe.

The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana started the game very well and could have scored a couple of goals before the break, with Bambanani Mbane's powerful shot being saved by the Zimbabwe goalkeeper, and Kgatlana failing to convert on two occasions.

But Kgatlana redeemed herself on the stroke of halftime to give South Africa the lead when she latched on to a long ball from Smeda and outsprinted her marker to beat the goalkeeper.

The hosts came back in the 73rd minute to level matters through a great header by Rutendo Makore, who had, up to this point, been closely marked by Noko Matlou.

She only got a second and beat her to a header, giving Andile Dlamini no chance in the Banyana Banyana goal.

This was Makore's 10th goal of the tournament, making her the Top Goal Scorer.

With time running out for both teams, and a penalty shootout looming to determine the winners, up stepped Smeda with a header in the referee's optional time.

Chantelle Esau put in a cross, and Smeda connected well at the far post to score Banyana Banyana's second of the day, and her fourth of the tournament to give South Africa victory right at the death.

She finishes the tournament level on four goals with Kgatlana, while Rhoda Mulaudzi chipped in with another one.

Bambanani Mbane, who was like a rock in defence, was voted Player of the Match.

With the victory, Banyana Banyana interim head coach Desiree Ellis becomes the first South African - men or women - to win the COSAFA Cup as both player and coach. She won her first gold medal in 2002, where she played against the current head coach of Zimbabwe.

Banyana Banyana starting XI vs Zimbabwe:

Andile Dlamini (GK), Lebohang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Bambanani Mbane, Noko Matlou, Kholosa Biyana, Refiloe Jane (c), Leandra Smeda, Thembi Kgatlana, Rhoda Mulaudzi (Nompumelelo Nyandeni), Chantelle Esau

Subs: Roxanne Barker (GK), Yolula Tsawe (GK), Regina Mogolola, Zanele Nhlapho, Koketso Tlailane, Nwabisa Kolisi, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Nkoikoi Mabina, Rachel Sebati

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