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Banyana Banyana pluck Falcons’ feathers

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It was evident they did not fear the holders as they took the match to them from kick-off.

Thembi Kgatlana

Banyana Banyana showed up Bafana Bafana yesterday, the country’s women’s national team succeeding where their male counterparts had failed the day before.

Thembi Kgatlana (pictured) came off the bench to score a fantastic goal that gave Banyana a 1-0 win over Nigeria in their opening Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ghana yesterday. The Houston Dash player struck the match’s solitary goal with just five minutes of play remaining after the two sides had struggled to convert their chances.

Banyana’s victory sets them up very well in their quest for a maiden appearance at the Fifa World Cup, with the top three sides at the end of the tournament going on to represent the continent at the global showpiece next year.

The win, only the second one for Banyana in 11 meetings between the two countries, came a day after the men’s teams of the two countries had played to a 1-1 stalemate in their Afcon qualifier in Johannesburg.

As defending champions, and given their dominant record over Banyana, the Super Falcons were expected to walk the match. But under Desiree Ellis’ guidance, this Banyana side is fearless and go into every match believing they can win.

And it was evident they did not fear the holders as they took the match to them from kick-off.

Strong and organised defensively, Banyana controlled the midfield and attacked with purpose. They were only let down by that good old South African weakness of lacking composure in front of goal as they wasted numerous opportunities. But to their credit they kept knocking and stuck to their game plan of patient build-ups. They got their just reward five minutes from time when a long ball into the box found Kgatlana who waited for no second invitation and smashed the ball home past the goalkeeper.

It was a goal worth its weight in gold, the strike not only earning Banyana a rare win over Nigeria but also shifting them three valuable points that should set them en route to their maiden World Cup appearance.

A far cry from what transpired at the FNB Stadium on Saturday when Bafana Bafana failed to beat Nigeria and put themselves under immense pressure to qualify for their own Afcon finals.