BANYANA Banyana booked themselves a place in the final of the 8th CAF African Women Championship with a 1-0 win over No 1 ranked African side Nigeria, in a thrilling semi-final played at the Bata
stadium last night.
Central defender Janine “Booth” van Wyk scored the all-important goal in the 23rd minute, after the Nigerians failed to clear their lines from a South African corner kick situation, and the hard working Van Wyk was on hand to strike the ball from 25 metres out with her left foot, and watch as it dipped
in off the underside of the crossbar past Nigerian goalkeeper and captain Precious Dede.
Banyana will face Equatorial Guinea in the grand finale of this year’s tournament in Malabo this coming Sunday, after the hosts defeated Cameroon 2-0 in the first semi-final played earlier in the day. Equally as important, the South African victory marked the Rainbow Nation team’s first triumph over Nigeria since Banyana made its international debut in 1993.
Particularly in the second half, the Nigerians came to the fore with attacking play but found Banyana goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni in fine form between the posts at the SA end of the field.
The Nigerian attacks were often neutralised by some fine SA defensive work with Liverpool Ladies centre back Amanda Sister combining superbly with Van Wyk in the heart of Banyana defence. They were well aided by fullbacks in Gabisile Hlumbane of and Van Wyk’s club-mate Nothando Vilakazi.
With the speed of striker, Jermaine Seoposenwe a major problem for the Nigerian rearguard, and
with the experienced Portia Modise dominating the midfield tussles along with captain Amanda Dlamini and young tough-tackling Refiloe Jane, the South Africans saved their best performance at the
tournament for the clash with the Nigerians.
Van Wyk is becoming a thorn in Nigeria’s flesh from a goal-scoring perspective, having netted with a superb free kick against the Super Falcons at the CAF African Women Championship 2010 held in Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg.
“I have been in the Banyana Banyana side since 2004 and we have tried for so long to beat the Nigerians but luck has never been on our side, but now we have proved that we can compete and beat of the best
on the continent,” said Van Wyk, whose strike was her 9th in a jersey.
Speaking after the game, Banyana head coach Joseph Mkhonza said: “Seeing the team beat Nigeria for the first time in our team’s history has left us with an amazing sense of prize and confidence ahead of Sunday’s final against the hosts Equatorial Guinea. All of our players need to be commended for their commitment and discipline shown.”
“We had to pick ourselves up after the opening match defeat against Equatorial Guinea and have applied ourselves to beat Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo and now Nigeria. We have some homework to do before Sunday’s final, knowing we will play in front of a large red-clad crowd in what is certain to be a packed Malabo stadium, but we will be ready for the challenge,” added Mkhonza.