Banyana Win, Fair Play Loses

by | Mar 12, 2007

Under impossibly contentious circumstances, the South African national women’s soccer team managed to overcome odds stacked against them, to secure a 4-2 (5-4 aggregate) victory over Equatorial Guinea.

Banyana’s success at Pretoria’s popular Caledonian Stadium on Sunday ensure continued passage in their quest to participate in next year’s Beijing Olympic Games.

Speaking to gsport on Monday, Banyana Banyana team manager Fran Hilton-Smith fumed about precociously biased refereeing by the four Democratic Republic of Congo match officials, who reportedly allowed two men to play for the visiting Equatorial Guinea women’s side.

“The refereeing was absolutely atrociously shocking, beyond description,” Hilton-Smith lamented. “When the lineswoman jumps up and down, celebrating the opposition’s goal, you must know, you’re in trouble!

“There were two boys in the team, playing for Equatorial Guinea. The referee inspected them, and said they were boys. The match commissioner was there, but they did nothing,” said Hilton-Smith.

Despite the odds, Banyana Banyana lead yesterday’s encounter 2-1 at half time, care of goals by Thembisihle Thabethe and Hlengiwe Ngwane.

The Guineans netted a 78th-minute illogically-awarded penalty to equalise at 2-all, when one of their players should have been yellow-carded for foul play instead.

But Banyana Banyana strikers Keneilwe Mathibela and Veronica Phewa settled the score in their favour at the match close, to ensure success for the home girls.

Citing similar circumstances in 2006 when the women’s U20 team was unfairly bundled out of a World Cup qualification match against the DRC, Hilton-Smith indicated that it was time for action.

“I’ve just written a letter of complaint to Raymond (Hack) to send to CAF,” said Hilton-Smith, “And I’m sending the same thing to FIFA.

“When I was in Zurich last week, I had a meeting with some of the FIFA hierarchy there, and they have asked me for any kind of history on this. They are definitely going to do some investigations of their own, with their medical department.”

Banyana Banyana’s next action will be for the All Africa Games in July, and the team will gather at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria in April and May for two camps in preparation.

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