Thembi Kgatlana came off the bench to score a decisive goal to hand South Africa a 1-0 victory over defending champions Nigeria in their 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Group B opener Sunday.
As expected, the Super Falcons started strong piling on the pressure from the get go on Banyana. However, Desiree Ellis’ ladies were not overawed but kept their defensive shape well while playing on the break.
South Africa’s opening saw Mamello Makhabane’s long range shot from the middle of the park firing wide of target in the opening exchanges.
Banyana then appealed for a penalty after Refiloe Jane was brought down inside the box, however the plea fell on deaf ears as the referee waved play on instead.
The Super Falcons missed a good chance to go ahead when Sam Oparanozonie was goal side unmarked, but she shot over the top with a gaping net.
Jane was unfortunate when she burst clear but was held back‚ though the match officials saw nothing wrong‚ while at the other end there was a big let-off when reigning African Women’s Footballer of the Year Asisat Oshoala fluffed her opportunity after she had seemed destined to score.
Skipper Janine van Wyk saw her free-kick saved by Oluehi‚ before Seoposenwe lost her balance at the vital moment with the goal gaping just before the break.
Seoposenwe had an even better opportunity five minutes after the break‚ but her touch from a cross put the ball inches wide of goal.
The pacey Kgatlana replaced Busisiwe Ndimeni just past the hour mark as coach Ellis sought to run at the Nigeria defence‚ but it was Leandra Smeda and Jane who had further unsuccessful efforts on goal.
There was a scare with 10 minutes remaining when Super Falcons star Desire Oparanozie had a headed chance that she directed over the crossbar.
But Kgatlana netted her 11th goal in 41 appearances for Banyana‚ another crucial strike in her collection of many to seal success for a jubilant South Africa.
The win is just a second ever over Nigeria for Banyana Banyana and gives them a massive boost in their bid to finish in the top three at the continental finals and seal a place at next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
— Total Women's Africa Cup of Nations (@CAF_AWCON) November 18, 2018