Zimbabwe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . (3) 3
South Africa’s women national soccer team Banyana Banyana comfortably beat Zimbabwe’s Mighty Warriors to clinch the Unity Challenge Cup in a pulsating match played in a near-capacity Rufaro Stadium on Wednesday.
The match, watched by President Robert Mugabe and other senior government officials, lived up to its high billing with players from both sides exhibiting quality football that would have made their male counterparts green with envy.
However, it was Banyana who showed better technical abilities to their tactically inferior opponents and scored three goals in the first half that killed off the match as a contest.
For their efforts, Banyana walked away US$30 000 richer while the Mighty Warriors got a US$20 000 consolation.
Banyana got their goals through captain Noko Matlou in the 26th minute, and an own goal by Lynette Mutokuto in the 34th minute before Amanda Dhlamini finished off the game a minute later.
Mighty Warriors coach Rosemary Mugadza rightly said her charges played well but could not match their physically superior opponents.
“We played well in the first 20 minutes, it was as per our game plan but later the girls lost concentration and we conceded three goals in the process,” said Mugadza.
“We should not lose hope, it’s a learning curve for the girls and I’m very proud with the way they played today (yesterday). We were playing a team that is fresh from a big tournament, a team that had a month in Germany preparing for that tournament but there was not much difference between the two teams, we matched them well.”
Even President Mugabe was impressed with the Mighty Warriors’ performance.
“I’m not disappointed at all, they (Mighty Warriors) missed chances in the second half but they played well,” said the President after the match. “It is the question of training now, the strikers must learn how to take their chances.”
The Mighty Warriors, backed by a vociferous crowd that thronged Rufaro, enjoyed the early proceedings with their every touch greeted with wild roars.
However, South Africa showed why they are ranked third in Africa after Nigeria and Ghana, with some sleek passing and great composure on the ball as they dictated the pace of the game.
Zimbabwe however got their fair chances to score at least a goal with striker Kuda Bhasopo missing the best chance of the game.
Bhasopo, who was impressive all afternoon, got the better of two defenders before shooting but her effort bounced off the upright and from the rebound the striker missed the ball completely, drawing loud laughter from the President who was seated in the VIP section.