The South African Senior Women’s National team Banyana Banyana is a step closer to qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games after registering a 1-0 victory over the Harambe Starlets of Kenya on Sunday, 2 August 2015.
Banyana Banyana won 2-0 on aggregate after overcoming the home side by the same score line two weeks ago.
The second leg third round clash place in Machakos town, just on the outskirts of the capital Nairobi.
First half substitute Rhoda Mulaudzi scored the only goal of the match at Machakos Stadium – a goal that was enough to see Vera Pauw’s charges into the fourth round of the Rio Olympic qualifiers.
Enjoying good support from the decent crowd, the hosts started like a house on fire putting the visitors under pressure.
The uneven pitch did not also help matters for Banyana Banyana despite using it for training on two occasions.
Pauw was forced to change her plans when Thembi Kgatlana was taken off after colliding with the opposition goalkeeper early on. Mulaudzi was brought on and became a handful for the Kenyan defenders.
Mulaudzi eventually registered her first goal for Banyana Banyana in the 24th minute. Her well taken long-range shot, after she beat off a defender, silenced the home side supporters instantly.
The goal seemed to give the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana an upper-hand as they took control of the half.
Forward Sanah Mollo had a great chance to increase the lead in the 31st minute but her shot sailed over the bar with the keeper well beaten.
Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Roxanne Barker also came to the party when she made a great save a minute later as she parried the ball for a corner from a Kenyan set-piece taken on the edge of the box.
Mollo had another opportunity four minutes before the break, but her shot went wide.
Barker made another great save just before the half-time break, coming out to punch a shot that was destined for goal – keeping Banyana Banyana in the lead going into recess.
The second stanza did not produce much action as both teams struggled to unlock each other’s defense.
Kenya got a chance in the 58th minute, but the shot went wide-off Barker’s goal posts.
Banyana Banyana did well to hold on to the 1-0 lead with Barker making two crucial saves towards the dying minutes of the match and Mollo coming close to extending the lead seven minutes into stoppage time, but her on target header was blocked by the Kenyan defenders.
The South African return home on Monday, 3 August and are expected to land at the OR Tambo International Airport at 12h00.
Photo 1 caption: The SA Senior Women’s national team coach Vera Pauw celebrates Banyana Banyana’s 1-0 away win over Kenya, keeping the team’s 2016 Rio Olympic Games campaign alive. Photo: SAFA on Twitter