Banyana Banyana prevail

Banyana Banyana beat a brave Namibia 3-1 in the final ‘ completing their campaign without a defeat and scoring seven goals in the semi-final and final of the tournament.

The four goals scored in the final were consistent with a tournament that had been dominated by a glut of goals with an average four goals being scored per match as the strikers ran riot in Lusaka.

South Africa and Zimbabwe used to be the dominant teams in women’s football but the tournament in Lusaka showed that Namibia and Zambia have closed the gap.

Banyana Banyana’s victory was an island of success for a South African football fraternity that has been plagued by a plethora of failures on the international football scene.

Maybe that was why even the South African Football Association decided on Monday to issue a public statement praising Banyanya Banyana for a job well done.

“We are proud of the achievement of our senior national women’s team in winning the Cosafa title,” said Safa chief executive Raymond Hack.

“They have contributed positively to the country’s celebration of women’s month.

“We would like to congratulate all the players under the able leadership of head coach Augustine Makalakalane, head of women’s football Nastasia Tsichlas and administrative manager Fran Hilton-Smith.

“A lot of work has gone into rebuilding the team. We owe our gratitude to Lotto for helping fund the High Performance Centre that has seen a number of players based there.

“The players have gradually improved since the start of the programme as they get to work with top-class specialists who take care of their physical, psychological and nutritional needs.

“Results like this will hopefully encourage other companies to come on-board and support women’s football.

“Well done, Banyana Banyana,” he said.

With such a professional set-up, Banyana Banyana were favourites to win the tournament given that their rivals are still amateurs who enjoy virtually little support from companies in their own countries.

Women’s football has struggled to ease itself into the conscience of people in some Southern African countries and Mozambique and Botswana did not even send teams to the tournament.

Such is the contrast that Banyana Banyana manager Hilton-Smith is currently in Russia where she is working for Fifa in the Under-20 Women’s World Cup.

She took time to send a message of congratulations to her triumphant team.

“I am so proud of the players and the technical staff. The results achieved in this tournament will go a long way in assisting us prepare for the fifth African Women’s Championship to be held in Nigeria in October.

“Our ultimate goal is to go beyond the African Women’s Championship to the Fifa World Cup to be held in China next year.

“This win in the Cosafa tournament is a step in the right direction,” said Hilton-Smith.

The Cosafa women’s tournament was hosted by Zambia from August 21-26.

While Banyana Banyana’s triumph was probably expected, Namibia’s Cinderella story warmed the hearts of the neutrals who followed this tournament.

The Namibians scored in every game they played ‘ holding hosts Zambia to a 2-2 draw in their opening group game and going into overdrive as they destroyed Swaziland 6-0 to book their place in the semi-finals.

There they came up against Zambia yet again and after a 1-1 draw in regulation time, they won a memorable penalty-shootout 5-4 to book their date with destiny.

Bianca Fredricks fired Namibia into the lead after just eight minutes, keeping her composure to finish a fine pass from Rita Williams to silence the home crowd.

There were a number of chances for Zambia and their equaliser came when Martha Kapombo found the target from a free-kick.

That took the match into penalties.

Zambia scored their penalties through Martha Kapombo, Deborah Shamaoma, Etas Banda and Anna Lunge while Namibia converted through Queen Manga, Williams, Hummel Stephanie, Lucas Leandri and Juliana Skrywer.

Zambia coach George Chikokola said it was unfortunate that his team fell through the penalty shootout lottery.

There was a consolation prize for Zambia as they beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in the third-place play-off.

The Zimbabweans had beaten Angola in back-to-back matches after their group was reduced to only two teams because of the failure by Mozambique to travel.

But in the semi-final against South Africa, the Zimbabweans were torn apart by their southern neighbours.

Skipper Portia Modise fired her side into the lead when she converted a pass from Belinda Khosi in the 12th minute and it was 2-0 when Nomphulelo Nyandeni took advantage of chaos in the Zimbabwe defence to score.

But prolific Zimbabwean scorer Marylin Magodzore gave her team hope when she reduced the arrears but two further goals for Banyana Banyana from Kylie-Ann Louw and Maphokoane Serobanyane in the last 10 minutes ended the Mighty Warriors’ hopes for glory.

South Africa were the highest scorers in the tournament, amassing 19 goals in four matches ‘ at an average of almost five goals per match ‘ on their way to the Promised Land.

Most of those goals came in their first match when they burst into overdrive to destroy a hapless Lesotho 9-0.

Lesotho coach Lethola Masimong said the region’s football associations needed to establish serious women’s leagues for the game to take a step forward.

“This is a serious message to my country and the association. We must urge our associations to set up women’s leagues. It is important that we have leagues in our countries.

“We are not serious with women’s football. They are taking it lightly. The associations are not utilising the money from Fifa for women’s soccer which they should use to improve the standards.

“We only met a week ago which was not enough. In fact, I am congratulating my girls, they played very well considering the circumstances.

“They have tried and played their best,” he said.

The Lesotho team was apparently assembled just a week before their trip to Zambia.





2006 Cosafa Castle Cup Participants

Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South

Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Results

Match 1: Zambia 2 – Namibia 2

Match 2: South Africa 9 – Lesotho 0

Match 3: Zimbabwe 3 – Angola 1

Match 4 Lesotho 0 – Malawi 3

Match 5: Namibia 6 – Swaziland 0

Match 6: Malawi 0 – South Africa 3

Match 7: Angola 0 – Zimbabwe 1

Match 8: Swaziland 0 -Zambia 7

Semi Final

Zambia 1 Namibia 1 (Namibia won 5-4 on penalties)

3rd/4th Playoff

Zambia 2 Zimbabwe 1

Final

South Africa 3 Namibia 1

September 2006
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