It was the birthday of the late Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, an African Legend who was a former President of their country, so what better way would the Banyana Banyana of South Africa had celebrated Mandela Day, if not with a victory over the Harambe Starlets of Kenya.
Prior to the encounter at the Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday, 18 July 2015, captain Janine van Wyk had told the media this:
“We know very well that it is Madiba’s birthday and we feel honoured to be playing on this great day. We won’t dedicate 67 minutes (South Africans honoured the 67 years of Mandela’s service to the country with 67 minutes of charity and community action around the country on his birthday), instead we will dedicate 90 minutes to him and we hope a huge crowd comes and celebrates with us, and a win will be the icing on the cake on this special day.”
Though it was not “a comfortable win of four or five goals” like Van Wyk had craved but the South African Senior Women’s National Team succeeded in squeezing out a 1–0 win over visiting Kenya in a third round, first leg, 2016 Rio Olympic Games qualifier.
A goal from MaIndies player, Lebohang Ramalepe, late in the second half was enough to give Banyana Banyana the win.
The Vera Pauw tutored side were missing USA-based striker Jermaine Seoposenwe and goalkeeper, Roxanne Barker who plays in Iceland but that did not stop them from dominating play.
However, in spite of creating many chances, a barren first half was what they had to show. Midfielder Silindile Ngubane combined well with Shiwe Nogwanya in the 25th minute but it was futile. Thembi Kgatlane, Nompumelelo Nyandeni and Sanah Mollo also had their opportunities at goal but to no avail.
Meanwhile Kenya seemed comfortable with playing a draw as they did not pose much of a threat all through the first half.
Determined to get a result, Banyana Banyana wasted no time at pressurizing the Kenyan defence in the second period.
Then Ramalepe broke the deadlock late on the 75th minute after her long range shot on the flank was mishandled by Kenya goalkeeper, Poline Atieno Owino. Owino has been the main reason why Kenya had not conceded until then.
Banyana Banyana are now at an advantage going into the second leg which will be played in a fortnight (Sunday, 2 August 2015) at the Machakos Stadium in the capital Nairobi.
The South Africans are expected to resume camp on Monday, 27 July to start preparations for the return leg.