By Nick Said |Timeslive|
Banyana Banyana’s Tokyo Olympic dream is over after they were dumped out of the 2020 qualifiers by Botswana.
South Africa’s northern neighbours triumphed 3-2 on penalties at the Orlando Stadium following a goalless draw on Tuesday.
The teams could not be separated over the two legs of the contest, forcing the tie into penalties. After Lebohang Ramalepe, Mamello Makhabane and Refiloe Jane missed for Banyana, they failed to progress to the next stage.
From the high of appearing at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and two successive Olympic appearances in 2012 and 2016, Tuesday’s was a shock exit for South Africa, who were without CAF Women’s Footballer of the Year Thembi Kgatlana and her teammate at Beijing BG Phoenix, Linda Motlhalo.
However, Banyana should still have had enough firepower to overcome an organised but limited Botswana, who offered next to nothing going forward and held on grimly at the back.
Banyana coach Desiree Ellis made two changes from the side that drew 0-0 in Gaborone last Friday, bringing in Leandra Smeda and Busisiwe Ndimeni for Nothando Vilakazi and Rhoda Mulaudzi.
Botswana proved compact and organised, boosted by a two-week camp in Slovakia last month that helped them prepare for the tie.
There was a nervous moment for the home side when goalkeeper Andile Dlamini spilled a free-kick, but the loose ball was scrambled away for a corner.
Ndimeni later saw her header from a Lebohang Ramalepe cross go wide, while a Jermaine Seoposenwe shot also went narrowly wide.
She had another chance to shoot on goal when she was played in behind the Botswana defence, but she drilled her shot wide of the post from a tight angle.
Noxolo Cesane was introduced at halftime for Amanda Mthandi and almost had an immediate impact, setting up a chance for Seoposenwe and then firing wide herself.
Mamello Makhabane drilled her 35-yard free-kick onto the crossbar as South Africa came closest to a goal in the second half.
Jane was the last of the home players to fire wide as her powerful shot flashed the wrong side of the post.
The match went into extra-time and Seoposenwe’s superb through-ball was met by Ndimeni, but her powerful shot was beaten away by Botswana goalkeeper Sedilame Bosija.