BANYANA Banyana topped their group as they cruised to the semi-finals of the Cosafa women’s championship at the expense of Malawi, annihilating them 6-0 at the Wolfson Stadium in KwaZakhele, Port Elizabeth on Monday.
South Africa went into the match at the back of two wins and has now won all their three matches in the group stages, scoring nine goals, and conceding only one against Madagascar in the first match. They will now face East African guest nation Uganda in the semi-finals at the same venue on Thursday at 15h30.
The Malawi fixture was also a significant occasion for Captain Janine van Wyk who earned her 150th cap in style, which made her the first woman footballer to reach this milestone on the continent. Van Wyk received a special presentation marking her achievement after the game.
Coach Desiree Ellis’ side proved far too strong for the Malawians‚ who battled to cope with their pace and skill‚ and should have won by an even greater margin but for some wasteful finishing.
Some messy defensive errors from the Malawians allowed Banyana to capitalise on the opportunity, with hat-trick hero Linda Motlhalo starting the rot as early as the eighth minute with a calmly taken shot after being set-up by Thembi Kgatlana.
Khanya Xesi doubled the lead in the 25th minute, her second goal of the tournament to give Ellis charges a 2-0 lead at the halftime break, as the home side once again punished Malawi for their poor marking.
As the second half commenced, it didn’t take Banyana too long to get back into their tread in as Kgaelebane Mohlakwane made it 3-0 shortly after the resumption. As they hunted for more goals and with Malawi struggling to make any breakthroughs, it didn’t take long until Xesi grabbed her brace with a close-range finish to make it 4-0 in the 53rd minute.
A couple of minutes later, Malawi’s Linda Kasenda almost pulled one back for her side, but her goal-bound shot unfortunately hit the bar.
Motlhalo then returned to net two quick-fire goals to complete her hat trick and hands Banyana a demolishing win over Malawi to advance to the knockout stages of the this year’s Cosafa Women’s Championships.
Ellis had made three changes in the match, and with the result already secured, she introduced fresh legs – bringing on Gabriela Salgado, Nompumelelo Nyandeni and Thato Letsoso (who served her one match suspension the previous game) for Mohlakoana, Xesi and Vilakazi respectively.
Uganda had sealed a surprise 2-1 win over 2017 hosts Zimbabwe earlier on Monday, with the latter missing numerous chances and being denied by the brilliance of opposing goalkeeper Ruth Atoru.
Zimbabwe now faces an anxious wait to see if they will qualify for the semi-finals as best-placed runners-up, although they would need an unlikely set of results to go their way.
Banyana will be looking to maintain their hopes of defending the title they won last year in Zimbabwe.