Cape Town - After the disappointing COSAFA Cup campaign, Banyana Banyana were in seventh heaven after routing Mozambique their opening Africa Women Cup of Nations first leg qualifier at the Estádio do Zimpeto in Maputo, on Wednesday.
Goals by Linda Motlhalo (2), Gabriela Salgado (2), captain Janine van Wyk, Melinda Kgadiete and Noxolo Cesane accounted for an eventual 7-0 romp, after leading 3-0 at halftime. By the sound of things, the scoreline could have reached double figures, judging by coach Desiree Ellis' post-match comment: "We hit the post five or six times."
The return leg will be played in Dobsonville next week, and Banyana Banyana look set to advance to the third qualifying round. Banyana Banyana will likely play the winner Algeria or Sudan qualifier. The Afcon Women's finals will be in Morocco in July 2022, and 12 teams will be competing.
Ellis said Wednesday's outcome in Maputo, will ease the pressure on Banyana Banyana in the return leg next Tuesday at Dobsonville Stadium.
“We knew that we needed to start well and be positive so that we achieve a good result here in Mozambique," said Ellis.
“This win will take the pressure off us going back to SA for the second leg.
“We were good on the ball, and it was pleasing to see how we opened them up. We hit the post about five or six times. Our goals were all ball-worked.
Let's take another look at @MaserameLinda 's goals from the #AWCON Qualifier first leg encounter against Mozambique on Wednesday afternoon. 🔥⚽⚽#BanyanaBanyana #Womensfootball pic.twitter.com/8SsOQRdFqR— Banyana_Banyana (@Banyana_Banyana) October 21, 2021
“By halftime, we were already 3-0 up. I think our movement off the ball and our passing was better. We managed to control every aspect of the game as well as the tempo.
“I thought our performance was professional. We came here to do the job and we did it.”
Key players like Atletico Madrid striker Thembi Kgatlana and Hilda Magaia did not play because they joined the squad late, and Ellis opted for younger players to carry the can. Asanda Hadebe made her Banyana Banyana debut.
“We gave a debut to Asanda, and she had an excellent outing plus an assist in the match," said Ellis. "I know that she played in the Under-2Os not so long ago. We need to bring in new players all the time. We must make sure that we keep on giving opportunities and refresh the squad.
“We know a lot of players played in the Buhari Cup and COSAFA Cup, and that was the reasoning behind making those many changes.
“We owed South Africa a sound performance. I felt the players were magnificent.
“We did not have a lot of time to prepare because we only came to camp on October 18 and some of our players like Thembi and Hilda only arrived the day before the game. That is why we did not play them in the match. “They travelled for 20 hours or so, and we needed to take care of them.”