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Banyana held by Jamaica

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It was Banyana’s last game in front of their own supporters. They will now face the USA away from home before they head in to the world’s biggest showpiece

Banyana Banyanas Nothando Vilakazi (right) tussles for the ball with a Jamaican opponent. South Africa drew 1-1 with Jamaica in Durban on a much-anticipated international friendly match against fellow World Cup débutantes Jamaica. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng African News Agency(ANA)

BANYANA Banyana were handed a free lesson yesterday afternoon at the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban when they were held 1-1 by Jamaica in an international friendly match. Banyana dominated the game and created numerous clear goal-scoring opportunities to kill the game off but failed to utilise them.

If there’s one lesson that they gained from yesterday’s match ahead of a much anticipated World Cup in France is that impressive displays do not win you football matches at the highest level. With all the chances they created and the fact that they enjoyed the bulk of the possession in the game, Banyana should not have had to settle for a stalemate.

Last home game

It was Banyana’s last game in front of their own supporters. They will now face the USA away from home before they head in to the world’s biggest showpiece.

The atmosphere in Durban was electric as football lovers came in their number to rally behind the girls but unfortunately they couldn’t witness their team triumph on the day.

The hosts were unlucky not to take the lead after 20 minutes when Refiloe Jane hit the post from close range. It was quality delivery from the overlapping Lebohang Ramalepe on the right-hand side, and Jane showed great composure with her head, but frustratingly the woodwork kept her out.

Banyana were not to be denied 26 minutes into the match as Linda Matlhalo broke the deadlock with a lovely finish. She capitilised from Konya Plummer’s blunder, the Jamaican skipper tried to clear a cross but her clearance lacked power and Matlhalo dispossessed her and beat Nicole McClure on her near post.

A disciplined Banyana side played some very structured football building from the back and using the width to penetrate the visitors’ defence.

Jamaica, however, were very physical and they were always a threat when there were aerial balls and one-on-one physical duels.

Banyana almost doubled their lead a few minutes in to the second half but McClure did well to deny Leandra Smeda.

The South Africans were totally in control of the game as they dictated the tempo, but they were undone on a counter-attack, being caught on transition 58 minutes in to the game.

Jamaica restored parity after a bustling run from the powerfully built Allyson Swaby who tormented and mesmerised the Banyana defence with ease before finishing with aplomb.

A minute later, Banyana had an opportunity to take the lead again, this time around from the penalty spot after Toriana Patterson handled the ball inside the box; but Smeda smacked her kick into the woodwork and Jamaica survived.

Banyana were asking all sorts of questions in their search for the winner in the second half with coach Desiree Ellis even introducing her star forward, Thembi Kgatlana to replace Maluadzi.

But even Kgatlana’s magic was not enough to get the result on what turned out to be a very frustrating day at the office for the hosts.