Malawi’s first-half red card proved costly in the second half when Banyana’s pressure took its toll.
BANYANA Banyana continued their relentless march to a fourth consecutive Cosafa Women’s Challenge final with a commanding 6-2 win over 10-man Malawi in Thursday’s semi-final in Port Elizabeth after a scoreless first half.
Malawi’s first-half red card proved costly in the second half when Banyana’s pressure took its toll and their defence leaked six goals.
Banyana will now make their eighth appearance in a Cosafa final and will go up against Botswana on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, one of South Africa’s 2010 Fifa World Cup venues. Botswana will be playing in a Cosafa final for the first time.
There were fierce challenges at the start yesterday as both teams looked to impose themselves early in the clash. Banyana seemed to cope well with the early physicality tests by the visitors.
The Chawinga sisters Tabitha and Temwa showed in the opening 10 minutes that they will be hard to contain when setting off on attacking sorties in Banyana’a half. They would have been more effective, but they often ran out of support just when the opposition’s defence looked vulnerable.
In the 17th minute, Mapula Kgoale steered her header fractionally wide of the far post after she outjumped the opposition defence to connect with a free-kick from out wide on the left.
In the 20th minute, Malawi goalkeeper Samir Amidu made a thundering tackle on Banyana’s Hildah Magaia as she ran in unmarked towards the Malawian penalty area. The corker was punished with a red card by Namibia referee Vistoria Shangula.
Mercy Sikelo came off the substitutes bench to don the keeper’s jersey in place of Amidu, and Malawi sacrificed in-field player Asimenye Simwaka.
As the first half wore on, Banyana failed to make their numerical advantage count as they were unable to fashion goalscoring chances. They forced three first-half corners, but Malawi’s defence lived a charmed life as the set-pieces were ineffectual.
Malawi were a constant threat on the break, and the Chawinga sisters were at the heart of the moves. At this stage, there was nothing to suggest that Malawi were playing with one less player, judging by their thrust on attack.
Andile Dlamini, Banyana’s keeper, pulled off a great save to deny Tabitha Chawinga four minutes before halftime.
The opening minutes of the second half proved dramatic, and the defences conceded goals for the first time at the 2020 event. First Gabriela Salgado reeled in a close-in free-kick which split off the defence and Kgoale was on hand to tap home (1-0). Four minutes later, Malawi captain Tabitha Chawinga restored the stalemate with a powerfully struck free-kick which left Dlamini flat-footed (1-1.)
Both sides seemed invigorated by this turn of events, and there was a raft of attacks in both directions. Banyana was first to strike again and this time Hildah Magaia punished a poor clearance by Malawi with the low-scoring drive (2-1).
Malawi’s 10-man resistance came tumbling down and Banyana added three well-taken goals for a commanding 5-1 lead, 15 minutes from the end.
Kgoale grabbed goal No 3 and Magaia was next in on the scoring act.
Sibulele Holweni, the tournament’s joint-highest goalscorer, added her name to the scorers’ list and Magaia’s fleetness of foot in the striking zone allowed her to complete a hat-trick with the side’s sixth goal.
Tabitha Chawinga had the last say in the match with a second goal for Malawi, two minutes from the end.
Hattrick hero Magaia was named ‘Player of the Match’ – her second such accolade at the 2020 showpiece.
Mapula Nomvula Kgoale of South Africa celebrates during the 2020 COSAFA Womens Cup semi final match against Malawi in Port Elizabeth yesterday. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix