Banyana reach CAF African Women Championship final

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pretoria - Banyana Banyana have reached the final of the 2012 CAF African Women Championship following their 1-0 win over the number one ranked Nigeria in a thrilling semi-final played at Bata Stadium in Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday.

Central defender Janine van Wyk scored the all-important goal in the 23rd minute after the Nigerians failed to clear their lines from a South African corner kick situation.

Van Wyk was on hand to strike the ball from 25m out with her left foot, and watch as it dipped in off the underside of the crossbar past Nigerian goalkeeper and captain Precious Dede.

Banyana will face Equatorial Guinea in the grand finale of this year's tournament in Malabo on Sunday, after the hosts defeated Cameroon 2-0 in the first semi-final played earlier in the day.

Equally as important, the South African victory marked the Rainbow Nation team's first triumph over Nigeria since Banyana made its international debut in 1993.

Particularly in the second half, the Nigerians came to the fore with attacking play, but found Banyana goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni in fine form between the posts at the SA end of the field.

The Nigerian attacks were often neutralised by some fine SA defensive work, with Liverpool Ladies centre back Amanda Sister combining superbly with Van Wyk in the heart of the Banyana defence.

Speaking after the game, Banyana head coach Joseph Mkhonza said: "Seeing Banyana beat Nigeria for the first time in our team's history has left us with an amazing sense of pride and confidence ahead of Sunday's final against the hosts Equatorial Guinea.

"All of our players need to be commended for their commitment and discipline shown. We had to pick ourselves up after the opening match defeat against Equatorial Guinea and have applied ourselves to beat Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo and now Nigeria.

"We have some homework to do before Sunday's final, knowing we will play in front of a large red-clad crowd in what is certain to be a packed Malabo Stadium, but we will be ready for the challenge."