Senior women’s soccer team Banyana Banyana have salvaged pride and honour by placing third in the 5th African Women’s Championships, after beating Cameroon’s Lionesses 5-4 on penalties after drawing 2-2 at the final whistle last night.
South Africa took the lead twice, first by Captain Portia Modise in the fourth minute, and again from Memory Makhanya’s shot in the 63rd minute after Cameroon’s Bella Francoise’s penalty in the 50th, but Cameroon clawed back to level ground when Madeleine Ngono headed in three minutes from the whistle.
Banyana prevailed 5-4 on penalties in the end, and took revenge on Cameroon for their 0-3 loss to the Lionesses at the same stage in the 2002 tournament.
CAFOnline.com quotes Modise after the match: “Today we have shown that we can be our very best, but we give credit to Cameroon, who gave us a good fight”.
Banyana’s primary hopes of reaching the finals in Nigeria were dealt a cruel blow in Tuesday’s semi-finals, where Ghana obstinately avoided conceding a goal from a flurry of chances, and sunk home hopes with an 88th-minute penalty.
A place in today’s finals would have meant automatic entry to next year’s FIFA World Cup in China, but those two places now go to defending champions Nigeria’s Super Falcons, and SA’s nemeses, the Black Queens of Ghana.
Nigeria and Ghana will do battle this afternoon for bragging rights in Warri, with both teams yet to concede a loss in the African continent’s most prestigious tournament.
Meanwhile, SAFA’s Raymond Hack, former captain Desiree Ellis and FIFA’s Fran Hilton-Smith have all voiced strong support for new coach, former Bafana Bafana player Augustine Makalakalane, and the senior women’s’ team. See gsport’s report to view their comments.