Pretoria – Banyana Banyana will arrive in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning from Tunis, where they beat Tunisia 6-5 in a penalty shoot-out in the London 2012 Olympics second leg qualifier match on Sunday.
With this crucial win, Banyana have advanced to the final group of four African nations in the hunt for spots at the London 2012 Olympics.
The match was forced into extra time after Tunisia’s Imene Troudi scored from the penalty spot after the ball struck the hand of Banyana’s Janine van Wyk in a crowded penalty area, with two minutes of match official’s optional time remaining in the second half.
This cancelled out the 1-0 lead that the South Africans had built from the first leg played in Durban on 2 April. Banyana caretaker coach Joseph Mkhonza made two changes to his starting line-up.
Experienced midfielder Mamello Makhabane returned to the side after missing the match in Durban due to groin strain, while midfielder Hlumbane shifted to the left back position ahead of Nothando Vilakazi.
The first half saw the visitors under severe pressure for lengthy periods, but Van Wyk stood firm alongside tough tackling, Port Elizabeth-based teenager Amanda Sister in the heart of the Banyana defence.
In holding off the Tunisian challenge, Banyana now find themselves in a group of four teams, and will play home and away matches against the other three nations, with the top two sides in the group qualifying to represent Africa at the 2012 London Olympics.
Banyana goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni saw far too much of the ball for the liking of the coaching staff and the group of Tunisian-based South Africans present in the stadium, but she performed admirably under the chilly conditions.
The South Africans’ best chance in the first period fell to Russian-based midfielder Nyandeni, whose curling right footed effort had the perfect angle to beat Tunisian goalkeeper and captain Rabia Gargouch, before returning into play off the crossbar.
In-form striker Matlou also had a superb chance to score from less than five metres out after the Tunisian defenders failed to clear the ball in a crowded penalty area, but the centre forward’s close range effort struck goalkeeper Gargouch and deflected away from the danger area.
In the second 45 minutes of play, Banyana came more into the game, but adopted a cautious approach in order to ensure they would not be caught for pace against the run of play.
Noko Matlau, Yola Jafta, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Hlumbane, Mndaweni and Kylie Ann Louw scored, with Mndaweni pulling off a save with her legs from the sixth Tunisian penalty kick taken. – Nthambeleni Gabara, BuaNews