Olympic Qualifiers: Banyana Banyana Grapple with DR Congo in Away Match


Olympic Qualifiers: Banyana Banyana Grapple with DR Congo in Away Match

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In the first-leg of the 2024 CAF Women’s Olympic qualifier at the Stade Des Martyrs on Wednesday, Banyana Banyana and DR Congo shared the honors, settling for a 1-1 draw.

DR Congo dominated the early stages, launching relentless attacks that were met with commendable saves from visiting goalkeeper Kaylin Swart. The persistence paid off when Grace Mfwamba netted the opener in the 48th minute.

The South African senior women’s team, sponsored by Sasol, faced an uphill battle in search of an equalizer. Thembi Kgatlana displayed commendable efforts, but the reward remained elusive. At halftime, coach Desiree Ellis’ squad trailed 0-1.

Returning for the second half, the visitors exhibited a marked improvement. It was Kgatlana who finally broke through, executing a stellar strike from a Nicole Michael cross to level the score in the 48th minute. Despite subsequent opportunities for both sides, the half concluded without further goals, resulting in a deadlock.

Reflecting on the game, Ellis expressed satisfaction with her team’s performance, particularly considering the necessity of fielding players in unfamiliar positions. She commented, “We aimed for a positive result away from home, despite having an entirely new defensive lineup.” Ellis noted the youthful composition, stating, “There were two 21-year-olds, one 20-year-old, and one 22-year-old, all playing together for the first time. So, I am very pleased. While we had chances, particularly later in the match, I am content with the outcome.”

With the advantage of an away goal, Banyana Banyana hold a slight edge. However, DR Congo promises to be formidable competition when the teams face off in the second leg at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Monday, October 30.

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