By Grace Chingoma
South Africa ………………………………0
HARARE- The Mighty Warriors turned on the heat in the second period to hand an out-of-sorts Banyana Banyana a heavy defeat in this year’s International Challenge Cup match at Rufaro yesterday.
Zimbabwe got US$10 000 for winning the trophy, while South Africa – who won the inaugural Unity Day challenge last year – received US$8 000.
The Mighty Warriors, who had struggled to find the net in the early stages of the game, repaid the support they got from a good crowd, which thronged Rufaro, when chief striker Rudo “Tupla” Neshamba drove across acres of space, beat her marker and blasted home.
Bustling striker, Rutendo “Madzimai” Makore, who came in as a second half substitute replacing Neshamba, doubled the lead in the 80th minute when she did justice to a fine delivery from the hardworking Tsitsi “Figo” Mairosi.
And Zimbabwe completed the rout with another substitute Kudakwashe “Porongi” Basopo scoring a long range beauty in the 90th minute. It was time to perform the “Zora Butter” dance as the players and fans joined in the famous celebration routine to mark another rare victory over their opponents.
Zimbabwe beat South Africa for the first time in the Cosafa Championships final at Rufaro in July before they were hammered 4-1 in the All-Africa Games in Maputo in September.
But Banyana Banyana, who have been nominated for the Caf African Women’s Team of the Year alongside Nigeria and Cameroon, and will be the continent’s representatives at the London 2012 Olympics Games, then crumbled like a deck of cards.
It was their heaviest defeat since coach Joseph Mkhonza took over the show last year with the Unity Day Cup assignment being his first game in charge. Banyana Banyana strolled to a 3-0 against Zimbabwe that afternoon.
Ironically, under Mkhonza, Banyana had lost once, with that 1-0 defeat in the Cosafa finals, and yesterday they suffered their heaviest defeat under the guidance of the former Kaizer Chiefs’ striker.
Banyana Banyana paid dearly for substituting veteran goalkeeper Thokozile Mndaweni during halftime and replacing her with United States-based ‘keeper Roxanne Barker.
Barker, playing her second match in national team colours, found the going tough in the African jungles as she is used to college football and conceded three goals.
Former Caf African Women Footballer of the Year, Noko Matlou, was a peripheral figure while Russia-based midfielder, Nompulelelo Nyandeni, who was in the running for Africa’s Footballer of the Year award, had a subdued game. Captain Amanda Dlamini was injured and substituted.
Mkhonza, the soft-spoken gaffer, was speechless after the match and described it as a bad in the office in their first preparatory match for the London Games.
“Today we didn’t play to the best of our ability. We will rectify our mistakes. You win some and lose some.
“We gave some players a chance and wanted to see what they can do because we have a lot of players in South Africa.
“You cannot have it all your own way all the time. And the second week of January we would be going into camp for one month before leaving for Cyprus, where we will play some teams that have also qualified for the Olympics,” said Mkhonza.
While the preparations for the London Games might have started badly for the Rainbow Nation, Mighty Warriors’ gaffer, Rose Mugadza, was a happy coach ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, which get underway next month.
“The first half we didn’t play well. And we tend to relax after scoring. This is a morale booster as we prepare to face Botswana in January. Today the players were confident and were not intimidated. Last year we lost the match as we were coming from three years of inactivity.
“And l believe we have done very well and well done to the girls. I would also like to thank the Zifa board and Ms (Mavis) Gumbo for the support they have given us so far.
“With good preparations you are bound to do well. We want to continue and have a good start in the Afcon qualifiers as we would be meeting Nigeria if we beat Botswana,” said Mugadza.
The Mighty Warriors quickly settled but their early raids failed to yield positive results as efforts by Neshamba and Marjoury Nyaumwe were too weak to trouble the Banyana goalkeeper.
However, South Africa may have felt aggrieved by Zimbabwean referee Pamela Chiwaya, in the 39th minute Matlou – who had benefited from a miscue by defender Patience Mujuru – was fouled by goalkeeper Onai Chingawo.
Zimbabwe captain Chingawo was cautioned, when she probably should have been sent off, and the visitors felt the pain of the injustice when they could not convert from the free-kick.
The Mighty Warriors’ attack was found wanting on occasion and striker Erina Jeke, who was given a rare start, struggled and it’s a miracle how she was only substituted in time added on.
The introduction of Black Rhinos’ big forward, Makore, brought urgency into Zimbabwe’s attack. And, at the end of day, it was time to celebrate for the Zimbabweans, after completing their second victory in five meetings over Banyanya Banyana since the Mighty Warriors returned to competitive football last year.
Zimbabwe: O. Chingawo, R. Mutyavaviri, T. Mandaza (K. Basopo 84th minute), D. Bhobho, P. Mujuru, E. Msipa, M. Nyaumwe, T. Mairosi, N. Ndlovu (S. Makoto 89th minute), E. Jeke (E. Chibanda 90th minute), R. Neshamba (R. Makore 67th minute).
South Africa: T. Mndaweni (R. Barker 46th minute), A. Sister, Z. Cele, S. Masina, N. Vilakazi, K. Louw, S. Mollo (A. Mocoyi 75th minute), N. Ntsibande, N. Nyandeni (G. Hlumbane 61st minute), N. Matlou, A. Dlamini (M. Ntseng 65th minute).