Banyana book semis spot
Amanda Dlamini (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Banyana Banyana booked themselves a place in the semi-finals of the CAF African Women's Championship 2012, 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 South African senior national women's team up for semi-final action at the same venue on Wednesday, with Group B log leaders and Africa's No 1 side Nigeria, the likely opponents.
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 SA goalkeeper Thoko Mnadweni 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 semi-finals, 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. This means anything is possible. Any team that has made it to the semi-finals as a chance of proceeding to the final stage of the tournament," said Mkhonza.
"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."
Skipper Dlamini has said making it this far in the tournament would mean facing some of the strongest teams on the continent but feels they are up for that challenge and make it as far in the competition.
"Coming into this tournament, we knew if we wanted to compete in the semi-finals, we were bound to meet the African power houses of women's football. Now that we've made it this far in the tournament, we want to play our own game knowing that we will face tough opposition being amongst the top four." said Dlamini.