By Patient Gomba
Banyana Banyana continue their preparations for their maiden World Cup appearance by giving a good account of themselves against one of the Women’s soccer powerhouse and currently 9th ranked team in the world Sweden.
Banyana drew with Sweden this week as the match ended in a stalemate which meant both teams shared the Albertina Sisulu Centenary Challenge Trophy.
Sweden did dominate the early exchanges as Banyana Banyana struggled to find the rhythm as coach Desiree Ellis rung four changes from the team that lost 2-1 to European Champions Netherlands earlier in the Winnie Mandela Challenge Trophy.
One of the changes was on goal and Andile Dlamini gave a good account of herself by thwarting all the early threats posed by the Swedes – who like – Netherlands, tried to use their height advantage by playing high balls into the box. But Dlamini dealt with them so well.
As the half went by and buoyed by a noisy and passionate crowd, Banyana Banyana soon found their rhythm and began to trouble the Swedes with stand in captain Refiloe Jane giving a blinder of a performance.
First half ended with few chances for both teams
As the second half began Ellis made a change as Smeda comes in for Koketso Tlailane as Banyana went a gear up looking for that goal that would break the deadlock.
Kgatlana and Refilwe Jane both had some half changes but again could not find the elusive goal. The reigning Africa footballer of the Year Kgatlana was full of running and gave the Swede defence some anxious moments.
There noise decibels increased whenever she was in possession as the crowd always anticipated some magic from the Banyana Golden girl who will be SA’s trump-card come the World Cup in in June.
Play swung both ways in the third quarter with both teams dangerous on the break.
Linda Motlhalo almost won it for Banyana in the last 15 mins, but her first time thunderbolt from close range went inches over the crossbar.
The Swedes dominated the closing stages as they looked for a win and the dangerous Hanna Glas dribbled past two Banyana players and brilliantly chipped the ball over the goalkeeper, only for her left foot effort to hit the cross bar, much to the relief of the Cape Town crowd.
There was excitement as the match drew to 90min mark and Motlhalo again had a good run which looked promising but was then fouled at the edge of the box to win a free kick for South Africa.
The resultant free kick from substitute Seoposenwe just missed the goal by a few inches in what was to be SA’s last attack of the match.
However there was still time in injury time for the Swedes to try and find a winner by forcing two consecutive corner kicks, but again the Banyana defence remained resolute as the exciting match ended in a deadlock.
There were no goals to talk about but we saw enough from Banyana Banyana from the 2 matches against 2 of the world’s best teams which suggest that the team is ready for the World cup in France. SA is in group B which features Germany, Spain and China.
Patient Gomba is Sports Presenter at News Bulletin for Zondex TV and Zimbabwe Digital News.
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