South Africa qualified for their second ever World Cup and will play in the semi-final of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations after winning a nervy victory over Tunisia. Banyana Banyana missed a host of chances, and nearly paid the price when Tunisia had a last minute penalty appeal denied, but it is the 2018 finalists who march onto the final four.
Story of the match
The biggest concern for South Africa coming into the match was how they would cope without star striker Thembi Kgatlana. But Banyana Banyana came out playing for their missing centre forward
And it was Kgatlana’s strike partner, Jermaine Seoposenwe who gave the South Africans the lead early on. She capped off a sharp move when she latched onto Mapula Kgoale’s through ball to finish cooly.
With Refiloe Jane back in midfield pulling the strings, the South Africans dominated proceedings. Without Kgatlana, Thalea Smidt was brought in as an extra midfielder while Seoposenwe played the role of a lone striker.
Tunisia were resolute, and carried a threat on the break and off set pieces. Andile Dlamini was called into action before the half-hour mark to make a sharp save from a Leila Maknoun volley inside the box.
South Africa’s biggest struggle this tournament has been their profligacy in front of goal. Even with Kgatlana they struggled to be clinical, and without her, Banyana were even more wasteful.
First Noxolo Cesane missed a glorious chance. With goal keeper beaten by the cross, she skied over her shot from just inside the box.
Linda Motlahlo made the wrong pass when through three on one, when she passed to an offside Cesane.
Despite their strong start to the second half, the nerves of not putting away their chances was taking its toll on the South Africans. Tunisia were growing into the game, particularly off set pieces they were causing problems for the South Africans.
Mistakes were creeping into the Banyana game and the Tunisian’s were pressing, but with that press came space in behind.
Substitute Melinda Kgadiete came close on the break to scoring after a neat chest and volley. Moments later, Jane slid an inch perfect pass into the path of Cesane, whose curled finished went inches wide.
South Africa were finding space time and time again behind Tunisia as the North Africans tired, but they could not kill off the game. This time Seoposenwe’s driven cross was taken off the feet of Motlhalo by Rania Aouina.
Stand out player
Back in the side after missing out on the final group game, Refiloe Jane was at her composed best. Her coolness on the ball made her a constant option for her defenders. As unflappable as they come, she constantly was making the right pass.
She had a bit more to do in breaking up play and stemming the tide of Tunisian attacks in the second half. There is a lot of responsibility on her shoulders as the sole pivot in the Banyana Banyana side, but she has shown that she can operate as a one-woman show in the midfield.
But despite their nervy finish, Banyana Banyana progress to the semi-finals and more importantly, to their second ever World Cup finals.
Tunisia will have a chance to qualify for the World Cup final round of qualifiers when they play against Botswana in the play off.
South Africa – Dlamini (gk), Ramelepe, Matlou, Smidt, Cesane, Motlhalo, Seoposenwe, Mbane, Kgoale, Jane (c), Holweni
Tunisia – Soulaima (gk), Alabbassi (c), Aouina, Kaabachi, Mamay, Ellouzi, Ayadi, Trodi, Ouni, Lamti, Maknoun