Banyana v Zambia report: Banyana book Wafcon final spot in dramatic fashion

Motlhalo converts from spot as VAR call hands SA late lifeline against Zambia

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Banyana Banyana beat Nigeria to claim the Aisha Buhari Cup in Lagos. File picture
Banyana Banyana beat Nigeria to claim the Aisha Buhari Cup in Lagos. File picture
Image: Banyana Banyana/Twitter

VAR came to Banyana Banyana's rescue, gifting them a stoppage time penalty to beat Zambia 1-0 in the Women's Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) semifinal at Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca on Monday.

Linda Motlhalo converted the penalty Ethiopian referee Lidya Tafesse Abebe gave Banyana after play had continued for a few minutes. Jermaine Seoposenwe was the player brought down but Abebe didn't award the spot-kick before VAR intervened. 

Having made the right-back slot her own, Lebogang Ramalepe surprisingly didn't make the starting XI and she had to settle for a berth on the bench. Second-choice right-back Bongeka Gamede was preferred instead. With the usual suspect at left-back Sibulele Holweni also ruled out of the match-day squad due to a knee injury she sustained in the 1-0 triumph over Tunisia in the tournament's quarterfinals, second-choice left-back Karabo Dlamini made the XI. 

Melinda Kgadiete was handed her first start of the tournament to spearhead Banyana's attack alongside Jermaine Seoposenwe. Conversely, Zambia had no notable modifications to their line-up from their previous games.

A Zambian crowd of about 150 people was most full of vim and vigour at the stadium, outshining a handful of South Africans led by Mama Joy, the erstwhile Orlando Pirates fan who abandoned the Sea Robbers for the silk-stocking KwaZulu-Natal side Royal AM a few months ago.

Talk about beating a rival at their own game! The vibrant Zambian throng relied on the vuvuzelas, a thing that was invented in SA, to create a decent atmosphere. On the whole, the attendance was poor with the locals seemingly disinterested. 

Banyana retained the ball brilliantly as usual, with Refiloe Jane and Motlhalo the orchestrators in the midfield. However, SA's brilliant interplay didn't really unsettle the  Zambian rearguard as they failed to make box entries in most scenarios where they had possession. 

In fact, She-polopolo made more box entries than SA in the first stanza with skipper Graze Chanda using her pace to penetrate down Dlamini's right side. Noko Matlou and Bambanani Mbane used their experience to mop up, forcing Zambian attackers into rash decisions in the final third.

A few second after the hour mark,  Abebe awarded Banyana a penalty but quickly changed her decision to a free-kick instead, after VAR's intervention. It was Noxolo Cesane who was brought down. Seoposenwe saw the resultant set-piece deflected for a corner kick.  

Ndebele is in Morocco as a guest of Sasol, Banyana's sponsor.

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