SOUTH African senior women’s team, Banyana Banyana played to a 1-1 draw against arch rivals Zimbabwe in a fiercely contested international friendly match at Sinaba Stadium in Daveyton on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Both Banyana and Zimbabwe went into this game on the back of victories over Mozambique and Zambia respectively. While those victories might have been achieved without breaking much sweat, this Daveyton encounter, though just a friendly, was played in a competitive spirit.
It was end to end stuff and Banyana dominated from the early stages and were unfortunate not to have taken the lead when a Noko Matlou goal was ruled out for offside. It was to prove a poetic justice as Zimbabwe had their own ‘goal’ late in the second half also ruled out on questionable circumstances.
As the match progressed in the first half, Zimbabwe were always looking threatening on counter attacks and their strikers were a handful for the somehow lethargic Banyana defence.
The Daveyton crowd did not disappoint as they came in numbers and cheered Banyana from the first minute to the last. But Zimbabwe were full value for the draw. In fact, the visitors gave Banyana a few things to mull over as the two COSAFA powerhouses slugged it out from end to end.
In the opening minutes, Zimbabwe were awarded an early free-kick just outside the box but there was no danger for Banyana as the effort was fired wide. That was perhaps the first warning shot and Banyana knew they had to be solid at the back if they were to come out of this one with something.
Then came the first controversial decision of the afternoon. Joseph Mkhonza’s charges had the ball in the back of the net on the 10th minute through Noko Matlou’s header but the effort was controversially ruled offside. Television replays however, showed the Limpopo based striker was very much onside when she received the ball.
Amanda Dlamini also had an opportunity on the 13th minute but her attempted lob was cleared off the line by the industrious Zimbabwean defence.
Quick thinking by goalkeeper Silindile Dlamini on 19 minutes foiled a Zimbabwean attack as she quickly came off her line to thwart the attempt.
There were some injury concerns for Banyana after 20 minutes; first when captain Janine van Wyk temporarily left with a knock to her left foot, then goalkeeper Silindile had to receive some medical attention also with what appeared to be a knock to her left foot. However, the medical team did a good job and the players were back on the field.
Zimbabwe took the lead five minutes from the break with a glancing Rudo Neshamba header. The attack started on the left with a long ball played in and the Banyana defence could not clear, allowing Rudo the opportunity to score.
Zimbabwe almost increased the score a few minutes into the second half but the ferocious attempt cannoned off the crossbar with Banyana goalkeeper on sixes and sevens.
Banyana responded on 53 minutes from the free-kick, way outside the box but the attempt yielded nothing. Van Wyk then fired in a long volley with the Zimbabwe keeper at sea before the visitors defence cleared the ball to safety.
The equaliser finally came after some really hard work. Amanda Dlamini collected a ball played in by Vilakazi to put Banyana level with her 19th goal for the national team.
Siwe Nongonya was brought in for Silindile Ngubane on 59 minutes as Banyana went in search of the winner.
Neshamba proved to be a real nuisance for Banyana each time she was in possession of the ball and almost increased the lead on 66 minutes but Van Wyk did well to pressure her with her shot going above the goal.
The first yellow card of the match was handed to Melody Musasa on 68 minutes for a nasty tackle on Amanda Dlamini. Banyana should have increased the lead on 70 minutes following some really exciting build up but the effort went just wide. Then again on 73 minutes there was another opportunity but the Zimbabwe keeper did well to palm the ball away.
Then Banyana keeper was quick off her line on 75 minutes to deny Zimbabwe what appeared a clear-cut scoring opportunity. There were some edgy moments for the local fans on 79 minutes as the Banyana keeper battled to deal with a low ball but the assistant referee pointed to some infringement and the score remained 1-1.