The home side came into the match at the back of a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Botswana in the final match of 2016 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. The match proved to be nothing like the barren draw in the last meeting between the two sides, as both were looking for positive results ahead of their trips to Brazil. However, a soaked Makhulong Stadium pitch made it difficult for both teams to get into their usual passing game.
The hosts believed they had broken the deadlock on 53 minutes when on-form Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder, Sanah Mollo celebrated her strike from a rebounded header by Amanda Dlamini only for the goal to be ruled offside.
The Mighty Warriors slowly got into the match midway through the second half but were no match for the South Africans. Talent Mandaza, who boasts the most caps in the visitors squad tried pulling the strings but was outplayed by a resilient Janine Van Wyk in the middle of the park. Banyana were back in the visitors’ half when Phumelelo Nyandeni forced a save from Zimbabwean keeper, Lindiwe Magwede with a fierce left footed strike.
The deadlock was eventually broken on the hour mark when Refiloe Jane got her fifth goal in the national colours. Following a good build up, a cross from Lebogang Ramalepe found an unmarked Jane who rifled home a low shot for the only goal of the match.
The lead saw the visitors losing their grip but South Africa failed to capitalized on that, opting to just keep possession and protect their lead for the remainder of the match.
Banyana coach, Vera Pauw was comfortable with the win but warned her team against complacency in the final third.
“We were concerned that a four week break would have an effect on our rhythm. We controlled the whole game but lacked the aggression in the final third. The goal we scored was as a result being more aggressive and this is something we need to rectify moving forward. We are good in keeping possession but football is about winning and not controlling the game,” said Pauw.
Despite the loss, Takaedza Mugadza, first coach to qualify Zimbabwe for the Olympics believes the match was a good litmus test for his squad ahead of their maiden appearance at the quadrennial multisport event.
“This is a fairly new team and we are still in the building phase. We have to look at what we had set out to do as a team and had to assess different playing methods. I am happy that the core characteristics that form our team came out well. A positive result might have given us false impressions so it is important to use such matches to meet your objectives”, said Mugadza.
South Africa is in Group E with hosts Brazil, China and Sweden while Zimbabwe will face tough opposition in Canada, Australia and Germany in Group F.