South Africa/Nigeria: Banyana Seek First Win Over Nigeria

South Africa’s Banyana Banyana will be out to record their first ever win over Nigeria when the two football powerhouses meet in the semi-finals of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) African Women’s Championship in Bata, Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday.

Kickoff is at 18h:30 South African time, with 30 minutes extra time to follow if the score is deadlocked after 90 minutes of play. If there is still no winner after extra time, the match will be decided by a penalty shootout.

The Sasol-sponsored South African side is ranked number four in Africa, compared to the number one ranked Nigerians – and captain Amanda Dlamini’s team will be looking to break a mental block and record their first win over the Super Falcons since Banyana Banyana was formed in 1993.

The class of Africa

The Nigerians have been the class of Africa since the African Women’s Championship was first played, being crowned the champions eight times. Only once has another team won the title.

“We came to the tournament with the aim of improving on our world ranking of 56th and African ranking of fourth, and with the top four African nations (Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and South Africa) all having made the semi-finals, we now need to deliver to meet our objective,” said Banyana Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza.

“We played to a 1-all draw with Nigeria in an international friendly played in Phokeng near Rustenburg, North West Province earlier this year (3 June), and shared a goal-less draw with them in Lagos two weeks later, so we know we are competitive enough to match Africa’s number one side,” he added.

Olympic experience

“The Banyana Banyana players are keen to do better than their bronze medal finish at the Caf African Women’s Championship 2010, which was held in Ekurhuleni near Johannesburg, and will be looking to use the experience they gained at the London Olympics to good advantage.”

Mkhonza has an injury-free squad of 20 players to choose from and has the option of fielding his attack-minded 3-5-2 formation which brought success (a 1-0 win over Senegal and a 4-1 triumph over the Democratic Republic of Congo) in the group stages, or revert to the conventional 4-4-2 format.

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies’ striker Andiswe Mgcoyi will arrive at the semi-final as the joint leading goal-scorer in the tournament on four goals, having scored the only goal of the match against Senegal and a hat-trick against the Congolese.

Hosts Equatorial Guinea, who the African Women’s Championship on home ground in 2008, face All-Africa Games champions Cameroon in the first semi-final, to be played in Malabo at 15:30.