Banyana Banyana showcased their strength in depth with a 2-1 victory over Malawi in their Cosafa Women’s Championship opening game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
Banyana were without the majority of their overseas-based stars that being crowned the inaugural 2021 Aisha Buhari Cup champions last week after crushing hosts Nigeria 4-2 in Lagos.
Glasgow City defender Janine van Wyk was the only overseas-based player to return with Banyana to help the national women’s team claim their fifth consecutive Cosafa Women’s Cup.
Coach Desiree Ellis has, though, an abundance of local talent to call upon, particularly from Mamelodi Sundowns, who are set to play in the African Champions League in November.
It was Sundowns’ forward Melinda Kgadiete that wasted no time in asserting Banyana’s dominance with a goal in the second minute to set the hosts on their way.
Banyana doubled their advantage after 37 minutes when University of the Western Cape midfielder Noxolo Cesane capitalised on an error in the Malawian defence.
Cesane picked up the loose ball and immediately saw an opportunity to unleash a shot at goal which ricocheted off a Malawian defender and into the back of the net to put Banyana 2-0 ahead.
There was a nervous moment for home team with halftime approaching as the hosts also had a defensive lapse at the back, but the Malawians could not beat Kaylin Swart in the Banyana goal.
Banyana had further opportunities in the second half, but could not extend their lead as Malawi came back strongly in the contest.
There was a particularly frenetic end to the game in the final 10 minutes as the visitors continued pushing in the hope to reduce the deficit.
Goalkeeper Swart was forced into a fine diving save towards her left post off a Malawian free kick shortly before the final whistle. However, Swart had no answer to a fierce shot by Wezzie Mvula, who had picked up a long ball played into the box over the head of Van Wyk in the heart of the Banyana defence.
Mvula’s goal inspired the Malawians as they pushed for the equaliser, but Swart ensured the points remained with Banyana as she made another good save off a last-minute free kick.
Banyana’s next match is against Angola on Friday at 3:30pm.