Three-goal Smeda helps Banyana send Zambia packing | TeamSA - TeamSA
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Three-goal Smeda helps Banyana send Zambia packing

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Banyana Banyana staged a stunning comeback against a strong and determined Zambia side on Thursday to book their spot in the final of the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship currently underway in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Down 3-0 in the 75th minute, the South Africans scored three quick goals to level the score by the end of the regulation time, forcing the match to a penalty shootout where they emerged victorious.

The result sets up a repeat of the 2011 COSAFA final when they lost to hosts Zimbabwe.

Things had looked bad for the Sasol-sponsored South Africans when Barba Banda scored the opening goal for Shepolopolo in the 21st minute before increasing their lead on the stroke of halftime through Grace Chanda.

Zambia then grabbed their third in the 73rd minute and it appeared the match was done and dusted.

It looked even worse when Zambia were awarded a penalty but there was relief for Banyana when Rhoda Chileshe stepped up and ballooned her spot kick over the crossbar.

With their never-say-die spirit, Banyana clawed their way back into the game with a 77th-minute goal from Leandra Smeda whose header was too powerful for Hazel Nali to stop.

Three minutes later Thembi Kgatlana, who was always a handful for the Zambian defence, was fouled and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Again, Smeda made no mistake, reducing the deficit to 3-2 with her second of the day.

With six minutes remaining on the clock, Kgatlana left her markers for dead and her cross found second-half substitute Rhoda Mulaudzi who had an easy tap-in; and that’s how regulation time ended, taking the match to a penalty shootout.

Smeda, Bambanani Mbane, Matlou, Nompumelelo Nyandeni (who had also come on in the second half), and Lebohang Ramalepe converted their spot kicks to send the South African bench into a frenzy.

Rachael Zulu, Grace Zulu and Lweendo Chisamu all scored for Zambia, while Ester Mukwasa missed her spot kick.

Shortly before the final whistle, interim head coach Desiree Ellis had brought on goalkeeper Andile Dlamini in preparation for the penalty shootout.

With her two goals in regulation time as well as her penalty, Smeda was voted as the Player of the Match.

With their last-gasp victory, South Africa will now face Zimbabwe in the final.

This is Banyana’s fifth straight final in the tournament – they won in 2002, 2006, and 2008 but came second in 2011 where they lost to Zimbabwe.

This is how they lined up:

Banyana Banyana starting XI
Roxanne Barker (GK) (Andile Dlamini), Lebohang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Noko Matlou, Bambanani Mbane, Kholosa Biyana, Koketso Tlailane (Rhoda Mulaudzi), Refiloe Jane (C), Leandra Smeda, Thembi Kgatlana, Chantelle Esau (Nompumelelo Nyandeni)
Subs: Andile Dlamini, (GK), Yolula Tsawe (GK), Regina Mogolola, Zanele Nhlapo, Nwabisa Kolisi, Nkoikoi Mabina, Rachel Sebati, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Rhoda Mulaudzi

Interim head coach: Desiree Ellis


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