SMEDA LEADS BANYANA’S ROUT OF BOTSWANA
By: Zimasa Matiwane
Banyana Banyana paved its way to the African Women’s Championships with a victory against Botswana in an international friendly at Isak Steyl Stadium on Saturday.
Coach Vera Pauw’s girls stamped their authority in the first 45 minutes. Woman of the Match, Leandra Smeda, opened the scoring with a stinging drive in the 13th minute, giving the ladies an early lead. Eight minutes later, a corner kick gave Smeda a chance to make it two, through a header she did not disappoint.
Smeda almost grabbed the third in the 26th minute with another header but her effort went narrowly wide. Compensating for the missed opportunity, veteran Portia Modise punished the weakened Botswana defence, putting Banyana way ahead of the visitors before half time.
The neighbours tried to get back into the game, but a less dominant Banyana still looked more organised and tactful. Botswana goalkeeper Kgomotso Molefe denied Smeda a well-deserved hat-trick in the 64th minute when she palmed the attempt out for a corner.
Ode Fulutudili made it 4-0 with a well-taken strike in the 83rd minute to complete an excellent afternoon for Banyana.
Pauw was impressed with the team’s performance, saying that things will get better as more matches are played.
“The ladies played very well, they were comfortable in passing each other the ball and it shows that they are getting better and adapting to playing together,” Pauw said after the match.
“I also believe we can do better than we did, so there’s still a lot of room for improvement. We are not where we want to be yet. We just need to work on making sure that we are accurate in the final third,” she added.
“Botswana played a defensive game, but we also missed a couple of good chances. It shows that we are improving in our attack. But we need to play against opponents who play an attacking game as well so that we can be able to test our defence.
“I am pleased with the results, we continued from where we left off against Comoros, and this shows that we are growing as a team. I’m also happy that I am finding the back of the net again.”
The encounter was Pauw’s fourth game in charge after Zimbabwe, Ghana and Comoros as she continues to build a formidable team for the African Women Championships scheduled for Namibia in October this year.