By Raymond Ackumey
South Africa’s Banyana Banyana on Saturday joined holders Nigeria to book a place in the semi finals of the ongoing African Women’s Cup of Nations when they drew 1-1 with the Shepolopolo’s of Zambia.
They both join group A winners Cameroon and Mali going into the next round.
South Africa on the day needed just a draw to go through after beating Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, and they did just that against their Southern Africa neighbours Zambia.
Widely seen as an easy one for the Rainbow nation, the South Africans were rather stretched as a 7th minute great strike from Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana was cancelled two minutes later by Zambian striker Rachael Kundananji.
Nigeria on the other hand accounted for Equatorial Guinea 6-0 in Cape Coast to seal the second spot and join the South Africans at the last four.
Tournament sensation Chrestinah Thembi Kgatlana broke the deadlock for South Africa in the seventh minute with a thunderbolt that caught the Zambia goalie off guard. But the lead lasted only two minutes as the Zambians clawed their way back into the game with the equalizer through Rachael Kundananji.
Both teams became very cautious of each other as they held their guard at the rear to prevent any havoc.
Skipper of the South Africans, Janine Van Wyk led the line at the back as she made sure the likes of Hellen Chanda, Grace Chanda and Mary Mwakapila were kept at bay from causing havoc and keeping the out of the tournament.
At the other side, Refiloe Jane had begging chances that came her way in the 55th and 61st minutes of the game but goalkeeper Hazel Nali stood tall in both situations to keep the scores same.
The best chance of the game fell to Women-of-the-Match award winner, Kgatlana in the 83rd minute of the game but after dribbling past goalkeeper Nali in post for Zambia and faced with an empty post, she shot wide off target much to the disbelief of the handful of fans that watched the game.
The result saw Banyana Banyana lead group B with seven points with the Super Falcons of Nigeria who beat Equatorial Guinea 6-0 in the group’s other game in Cape Coast amassing six points to go through as runners up.
For the semi finals, South Africa will face Mali in Cape Coast while Cameroon faces Nigeria in what will be a repeat of the 2016 final at the Accra Sports Stadium.