South Africa have all to play for in their last group match against Ghana on Thursday as the Women’s football event of the All-Africa games heats up in Brazzaville Congo.
Following the withdrawal of Egypt from the tournament, the teams in Group B would see their first round fate sealed after two matches, so a win for Banyana Banyana guarantees a place in the next stage, leaving Cameroon and Ghana to battle for the remaining spot.
Coach Vera Pauw’s charges gave up their one goal lead four minutes to time in their opening match against Cameroon to settle for a 1-1 draw.
It was Captain Janine Van Wyk’s 120th cap and Banyana Banyana were almost running away with a victory courtesy of Leandra Smeda’s 71st minute goal but the script changed when Cameroon earned a penalty which Captain Christine Manie easily dispatched to level proceedings.
In that encounter, Banyana Banyana did pressure the Cameroonian defence and aided by their counter attacks they made meaningful efforts at goal which were thwarted by Cameroon’s goalkeeper Isabelle Mambingo.
— Janine Van Wyk (@Janinevanwyk5) September 7, 2015
While Cameroon take the day off, South Africa, Ghana would take centre stage.
Undoubtedly the group of death with three of the continent’s top ten teams, we have to strap ourselves for stiff competition coupled with intrigues and tension-soaked moments. It’s just unfortunate that one of South Africa, Cameroon or Ghana would have to bow out in utter disappointment.
They were all in Group B of last year’s Africa Women Championship in Namibia with South Africa and Cameroon making it through.
Banyana Banyana would be under more pressure on Thursday to get their desired result, considering it’s their final group game and a loss would leave them gnashing their teeth on the verge of elimination. But Ghana are still safe with any outcome, a win for them means they can afford to even joke in the match against Cameroon which would be to the detriment of South Africa.
A draw between both sides however leaves the group very open until the last group B match is played. At the 2011 edition in Maputo, South Africa and Ghana had settled for a 2-2 draw, fast forward three years later at the 2014 Africa Women Championship, they met again in the group stage to produce another draw with one goal apiece.
South Africa are the only nation to have participated in all four edition of the women’s football event of the AAG till date, so with their prestige at stake, group stage exit is not an option.
While the Black Queens of Ghana would definitely not like the look on Asamoah Gyan’s face if they fumble in their bid to regain their status as one of Africa’s women football powerhouses.
Already, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire have qualified for the semi-finals from Group A like they did at the AWC. South Africa would join them today only if they win, else they would have to wait.
On Wednesday, Super Falcons coach, Christopher Danjuma stayed true to the same starting IX that neatly executed the 5-1 defeat of Congo in their opening match and they did not disappoint as they also eliminated Tanzania 3-0 to progress.
Yet again Desire Oparanozie stole the headlines, this time with a first half brace. The super striker now has five goals from two matches. Esther Sunday scored the third goal for the African Champions and now has two goals.
Surely the Super Falcons who did not qualify for the 2011 edition of the AAG, are not taking anything for granted as they keep overwhelming opponents with their dominance. They now have eight goals in two matches conceding just one.
Meanwhile Cote d’Ivoire did not need that much goals to advance; two goals in two matches, they are through too. In their second group game on Wednesday, a goal from Akaffou Rita ensured victory over Congo.