Hosts South Africa claimed a dramatic 1-0 victory over Botswana with virtually the last play of the game as they took control of their Group A at the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championships on Friday.
It looked as though brave Botswana would thwart Banyana Banyana, who missed a penalty and wasted a number of other opportunities, until Jermaine Seoposenwe popped up with a header to break the hearts of The Mares.
South Africa had dominated proceedings in windy conditions, but when Nompumelelo Nyandeni first struck a post and then saw her penalty brilliantly saved by Botswana goalkeeper Maitumelo Bosija, it looked as though it would not be their day.
Nyandeni’s effort from 122 yards was touched onto the crossbar by Bosija, who then scrambled to save the rebound from point-blank range.
Bosija, who ironically plays in South Africa for Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies, was finally beaten in the fifth minute of injury-time when a deep cross to the back post was headed in by a grateful Seoposenwe to send the sizeable home crowd into wild celebration.
Zimbabwe took charge of Group C with a comprehensive victory over Eswatini to move to a maximum of six points from their two games.
They head the pool from East African guest nation Uganda, who won their opener and must now play Namibia on Saturday to see if they can keep pace with Zimbabwe at the top of the pool.
It took the Mighty Warriors until almost the half-hour mark to take the lead as Susan Nyama headed home to settle their nerves.
Felistas Muzongondi doubled the advantage just before the hour-mark with a neat finish, and shortly afterwards Marjory Nyaumwe added the goal that took the fixture away from Eswatini.
Two defeats leave Eswatini heading home after the pool stage and their clash on Monday against Namibia is now a dead rubber for them.
“We improved today compared tom our last game, we made a lot of tactical changes, some due to slight knocks and others were to manage the energy of the players,” Zimbabwe coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda said.
“Overall it was a good game, but not an easy one. We had to deal with some brilliant individual players from Eswatini.
“We are taking each game as it comes, picking up points boost the confidence of the players, but the Ugandan game will be a new game altogether. We will try to improve where we need to.”
In the other match in Group A, Malawi claimed a 2-0 victory over Madagascar to send the islanders out of the competition and keep their semifinal hopes alive.
Linda Kasenda and Zainab Kapanda scored for Malawi as they had to withstand some heavy pressure from their opponents, but managed to keep the clean-sheet.
The action resumes on Saturday when the clash of the day sees Zambia take on Central African guest nation Cameroon (15h30 local; 13h30 GMT) for what is likely the deciding match in Group B.
Both teams have qualified for the African Women’s Championship in Ghana in November, and won their openers in Port Elizabeth, Cameroon after mauling Mozambique 8-1 on Thursday.
Zambia coach Beauty Mwamba says facing Cameroon holds no fear for her side.
“We are not intimidated by the scoreline, we played at different intervals, and the weather at the time Cameroon was playing was so we will take that challenge. We will just prepare for the game,” Mwamba told reporters.
“There are only three teams here [in Nelson Mandela Bay] that have qualified to the Africa Women’s Championship, that is Zambia, Cameroon and South Africa. So playing Cameroon will give us a real test of what to expect at the Afcon.”
Lesotho take on Mozambique (10h00 local; 08h00 GMT) as they both hope to keep their semifinal hopes alive, while in the lunchtime kick-off Uganda will take their good form into a clash with Namibia (13h00 local; 11h00 GMT)
All the games will be played at the Wolfson Stadium and entrance for fans is FREE.
All Wolfson Stadium
Madagascar 0 Malawi 2 (Linda Kasenda, Zainab Kapanda)
Zimbabwe 3 (Susan Nyama, Felistas Muzongondi, Marjory Nyaumwe) Eswatini 0
South Africa 1 (Jermaine Seoposenwe) Botswana 0
All Wolfson Stadium
10h00 (08h00 GMT) –Lesotho vs Mozambique
13h00 (11h00 GMT) –Namibia vs Uganda
15h30 (13h30 GMT) –Zambia vs Cameroon
GROUP A P W D L GF GA PTS
South Africa 2 2 0 0 3 1 6
Botswana 2 1 0 1 2 1 3
Malawi 2 1 0 1 2 2 3
Madagascar 2 0 0 2 1 4 0
GROUP B P W D L GF GA PTS
Cameroon 1 1 0 0 8 1 3
Zambia 1 1 0 0 2 0 3
Lesotho 1 0 0 1 0 2 0
Mozambique 1 0 0 1 1 8 0
GROUP C P W D L GF GA PTS
Zimbabwe 2 2 0 0 4 0 6
Uganda 1 1 0 0 4 3 3
Namibia 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Eswatini 2 0 0 2 3 7 0
Matches Played: 9
Goals scored: 30
Biggest victory: Cameroon 8 Mozambique 1 (Group B, September 13)
Most goals in a game: 9 – Cameroon 8 Mozambique 1 (Group B, September 13)
3 goals – Mpeh Bissong (Cameroon)
2 – Raissa Mbappe (Cameroon), Hasifah Nassuna (Uganda), Marjory Nyaumwe (Zimbabwe)
1 –Barbra Banda (Zambia),Cidalia Cuta (Mozambique), Zainab Kapanda (Malawi), Linda Kasenda (Malawi), Lesego Keleboge (Botswana), Charlene Meyong (Cameroon), Tenanile Mgcamphalala (Eswatini), Felistas Muzongondi (Zimbabwe), Resty Nanziri (Uganda), Celiwe Nkambule (Eswatini), Abena Ninon (Cameroon), Agnes Nkada (Cameroon), Alupo Norah (Uganda), Susan Nyama (Zimbabwe), Lesego Radiakanyo (Botswana), Sarah Rasoanandrasana (Madagascar), Jermaine Seoposenwe (South Africa), Cebile Shongwe (Eswatini), Nothando Vilakazi (South Africa),Khanya Xesi (South Africa), Misozi Zulu (Zambia).