By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
SOUTH African senior women team had their dream to qualify for their first-ever FIFA World Cup dashed away after losing 3-1 to Equatoria Guinea in the semi-final match of the CAF African Women Championships.
Equatoria Guinea who are the defending champions of this competition, and ironically after having won it by beating South Africa 2-1 in 2008 had to wait until late in the extra-time to score three goals that sunk Banyana Banyana’s chances into the doldrums. This after the two sides failed to see the back of the net after regulated time.
The defending African champions, will face Nigeria in the final of this 7th edition of the AWC on Sunday, November 14 at the same venue.
Back to the match which was played in front of the capacity crowd, Equatorial Guinea showed their intension to go extra mile from the word go with Chinasa Okoro Chinasa shooting inches wide for the initial real action of the match as early as the 2nd minute. Banyana however were not threatened as the fought back and won their first corner kick in the 4th minute of the game..
Salimata Simpore also had another opportunity for the defending champions in the 8th minute but her initial touch took the ball wide and she shot wide.
South Africa replied immediately with an attack of their own as Dlamini Amanda made a precise cross after a dazzling run on the right, but Popela Mamphase headed inches wide in the 9th minute.
Salimata Simpore was a constant thorn in the flesh of the South African defence and she unleashed another shot in the 12th minute on one of her break away moves but the South African goal keeper was up to the task.
South Africa should have gone one goal up in the 14th minute, but Dlamin Amanda developed cold feet in front of goal, shooting against the legs of the Equatorial Guinea goal keeper.
Popela Mamphase failed to take advantage of a mix up in the Equatorial Guinea box in the 28th minute after a corner kick was flicked towards goal by a South African striker and it was once again respite time for the defending champions who were now being bombarded by the host from all angles.
The moment the fans were waiting for came in the 44th minute as South Africa got awarded a free-kick 30 yards from the opponents goal and quite to her reputation, Van Wyk released a powerful drive which goal keeper Silva Paixao stretched fully to punch for a corner kick advantage South Africa.
The resultant corner kick also brought out the best from goal keeper Silver as she pushed away another reaction shot from Yola Jafta at close range inside the vital area.
It was now time for the recess and Equatorial Guinea could easily have been a goal down but for the heroics of their goal keeper.
Equatoria Guinea came fuming in the second half, with the hard-running Salimata Simpore, Okoroand Blessing Diala as thorns in the heels of Banyana defenders marshalled by Simphiwe Dludlu, Janine “Booth” van Wyk and captain, Nthabeleng Modiko.
Okoro came close to scoring after she dribble past a cluster of defender before she could unleashed a cross into the box, but her attempted was well punched away by goalkeeper, Thoko Mndawweni in the 5th minute.
The Banyana Banyana bench was first to react with a technical change in the 56 th minute, bringing on Saneh Mollo for Nocane Silti but Equatorial Guinea continued to mount pressure and captain of the side, Ayonmang Genoveva placed a long range free kick just above the bar in the 60th minute.
Equatorial Guinea were now in firm control of the game and they made their own substitution in the 75th minute bringing on Haua Yao for Barbosa de Santana.
Yet another change in the 82nd minute and danger woman, Jade sayo was finally introduced and Nigerian born Blessing Nnagbugwu made way,
On the dot of time, Amanda Dlamini could have nicked it for Banyana Banyana but her lob was brilliantly parried away by the Equatorial Guinea goal keeper. The defending champions also got into a goal scoring position almost immediately but Salimata Simpore was guilty of poor finishing after out running the whole of the South African defenders.
The game ended with the score line still 0-0 and it was time for extra time of two halves.
In the 12th minute of extra time, a defensive error was what separated the two teams as Salimata simpore of Equatorial Guinea latched on to a through ball after Van Wyk of South Africa had failed to clear, calmly placing the ball beyond the reach of goal keeper Mndaweni Thoko Zile of South Africa.
Things took a turn for the worse for Banyana Banyana in the 18th minute of extra time after Jade Sayo who was a substitute in the game broke loose on the right and made a cross into the box which was turned into her own goal by defender Dludlu to take the game beyond repairs for the host.
A ghost silence took over the stadium and some fans immediately made their way through the exit gates.
It was surely all over in the 25th minute as yet another defensive blunder by South Africa gifted Salimata Simpore a loose ball in the box and she maintained composure to dribble 2 on rushing defenders before slotting home.
South Africa got a consolation goal 3 minutes after and striker Dlamin Amanda deservedly got the goal with a perfect lob over the onrushing Equatorial goal keeper after breaking free on goal.
It was too little too late and the hopes of the host went up in tatters. Equatorial Guinea qualifies for a 2nd successive final and picks a ticket to the FIFA world cup in Germany 2011.-More report by cafonline.com