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The women’s national soccer team did the country proud in a Human Rights Day friendly, beating the continent’s number two, Ghana.
BANYANA Banyana gave their multitude of supporters something to celebrate on Human Rights Day, when they beat Ghana on penalties in an international friendly. The final score was 5-4.

Battle of the titans: Banyana Banyana and Ghana clash at Dobsonville StadiumBattle of the titans: Banyana Banyana and Ghana clash at Dobsonville StadiumThe soccer match was one of several events held around the country to mark Human Rights Day. The day commemorates the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, in which 69 people were killed by police and about 300 injured during a peaceful protest against pass law. The day is a reminder for all South Africans of the sacrifices made to gain the rights that are entrenched in the country and protected in the Constitution.

Thousands of flag-waving soccer fans thronged Dobsonville Stadium to watch their favourite players take on Ghana, a team ranked second in Africa. Banyana Banyana is in fourth place.

Played on a wet and chilly day, the game began slowly, with both teams struggling to create scoring opportunities; however, Banyana managed to score a goal in the 24th minute through striker Noko Matlou, who slotted in a penalty.

The clash tightened up in the second half as the opposition team created more scoring opportunities than during the first half. Ghana’s efforts were rewarded in the 52nd minute, when they equalised. The match ended in a one-all draw and went into penalties.

Banyana scored all five penalties they were given, through Noko Matlou, Leandra Smeda, Nomathemba Ntsibande, Janine van Wyk and Thokozile Mndaweni. The Ghanaians scored four penalties and their captain’s spot kick was saved by Mndaweni, Banyana’s keeper.

After the game, Banyana’s captain, Amanda Dlamini, said the team could have done better, though she was happy they had won. “I think it was a very competitive game. It was a good way of celebrating Human’s Rights Day and a good way of honouring women as we won the trophy, which is important.”

Joseph Mkhonza, the team’s coach, was not happy with the way the team started. “We struggled and did not play our own game,” he said, but added that he was delighted the team won, especially playing against a team ranked number two in Africa. “They came at us but I’m happy that my girls maintained them.”

The game will help Banyana prepare for the Olympic Games, taking place in London from 25 July to 9 August this year.

Mkhonza admitted that Ghana gave them one of the best practises. As part of their preparations, the team would attend various training camps until they left for the Olympics. “We will work very hard to make sure that when we go to the Olympics, we make a statement,” said the coach.

Kuuku Dadzie, Ghana’s coach, said his team were also preparing for the qualifier game for the Africa’s Women Championship, which they would play against Cameroon in May. Dadzie was impressed with the way the South African team played. “[Banyana Banyana] will go places with the extra effort,” he acknowledged.

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