It was an unexpected loss, but reality is Banyana Banyana saw their dominance in the Cosafa Women’s Cup being ended by Malawi at the Nelson Mandela Stadium on Thursday, a great disappointment to the team, especially head coach Desiree Ellis.
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Banyana have been champions of the Cosafa Cup since 2017, and they came into the tournament following a successful campaign at the Aisha Buhari Cup, where they beat hosts Nigeria in the final.
But, some sloppy defending by the likes of captain Janine van Wyk and Bambanani Mbane cost the South Africans a place in the final after fighting their way back into the match twice, before Malawi eventually got the winning goal late in the game to win the tie 3-2.
“I am really disappointed, we didn’t have a great first half. But we came out, got a goal right at the just before half-time, which lifted the team. We changed our formation slightly and we were on top of them all the way. We just couldn’t get the goal to go in. Then we defended poorly, diving in and not picking up the runners coming into the box and we conceded again,” said Ellis.
“Then we got a penalty, with four minutes to go and our defending was criminal. For a team of so much experience to give away a goal like that at the end? Yes, it was a bad pass but the ball should have been cleared.”
Meanwhile, Malawi coach McNelbert Kadzuwa likened Banyana to an elephant, and said they had to take their time in defeating them.
“We are a lion, a lion has a heart to kill so that it can eat. We have killed the elephant. And that big elephant which is Banyana can’t be killed easily and it cannot be killed by cutting its neck, never. Because it’s an elephant, you have to bite it bit by bit, that’s what we have done. We are forging ahead,” said Kdzuwa after the match.
Malawi will play the final against Tanzania on Saturday, while Banyana will battle it out for a third place finish against Zambia in an earlier kick-off on the same day.