A gallant Sitsebe SaMhlekazi tested their first defeat in the COSAFA Challenge after getting a 5-0 bashing from South Africa’s Banyana Banyana.
It is not all doom for Sitsebe as they have a date with Angola on Monday in a must-win game to claw their way out of the group stages and reach the semi-finals for the first time in history.
Led by assistant Bongumusa ‘Giggs’ Mdluli in the absence of Head Coach Dumisani Makhanya, Sitsebe were a goal down two minutes into the game, the time it takes to boil an egg. TUT player Mapula Kgoale beat Nokwanda Mamba at Eswatini’s sticks with a shot from the edge of the box.
Sibulele Holweni doubled Banyana lead six minutes after the half-hour mark with a close-range header.
Just like in the first half, it took Banyana two minutes to add the third after recess. The impressive Gabriela Salgado cut in to beat Mamba on his near post.
In the hour mark, the host were 4-0 up with Mapula completing her brace. Mamba had a howler here, seeing the ball squeeze on her near post from Mapula’s shot from about 30 yards on the left-wing. Salgado was back for her own brace three minutes into added time, nailing the last one on Sitsebe’s coffin with a free-kick.
It was a second meeting between the two nations in the COSAFA Challenge, with the last coming 18 years ago- in 2002 to be precise where the South Africans won 4-0.
One cannot fault Eswatini ladies. They were playing against a Banyana team that is yet to test defeat in 16 COSAFA matches. Actually, Banyana has won the tournament a record six times in the seven events hosted by the Council of Southern African Football Associations. Another tournament was won by Zimbabwe.
The records do not end there. Banyana are yet to lose a COSAFA group match, drawing just once against Botswana in 2017.
Despite the fact that Sitsebe SaMhlekazi has never gone past the group stages in the tournament, they are in a good position to advance in the 2020 edition as they only need to avoid defeat against third-placed Angola to reach the semi-finals.
Angola has a point in the group after losing to Banyana in the opening game before playing to a draw against group minnows Comoros.
Sabelo Gwebu / Independent News
This article was previously published on Independent News Eswatini