Banyana Banyana defended their Cosafa Cup title after defeating Botswana 2-1 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, bringing down the curtains on a highly successful 2020 women’s tournament.
The championship commenced on November 3, making it the first football tournament to be staged on the African continent since the coronavirus outbreak.
Defending champions Banyana Banyana were gunning for their fourth successive title and showed determination as they finished top of Group A undefeated and without conceding a single goal.
The team went on to knockout Malawi in the semi-finals to book their place in the final where they locked horns with Botswana for the ultimate prize.
Sibulele Holwene scored her eighth goal of the tournament as she slotted home a beauty in the opening minute of the first half. Banyana did not stop putting pressure but Botswana goalkeeper Maitumelo Bosija did well to deny them until Gabriela Salgado found a breakthrough in the 65th to extend the lead for the hosts.
Botswana pulled one back in the 85th minute through Mokgabo Thanda but Banyana Banyana held on for a famous victory which gave them a fourth successive title.
In her squad selection coach Desiree Ellis opted to combine young talent with a bit of experience and introduced a different team to the tournament from what South Africans were expecting.
Speaking after her team’s triumph, a jubilant Ellis expressed her joy as she looked back to the first day she selected her squad dominated by youngsters and how they have worked hard to make it to the final and walk away victorious.
“It’s been 25 days and today was the day we had been working towards. We challenged the players consistently about raising their hands and making their mark in this tournament and I think the analysis by our analyst was spot throughout this tournament. We were in control of the game from the start and got an early goal though we got a bit sloppy later on and allowed them back in the game,” indicated Ellis.
“During the cooling break and halftime, we had to remind our players that the game was not over and also reminded them about the game plan.
“This is a young team, they will learn and grow. When the final whistle went, we were just proud of this group of players,” she added.
Sibulele Holweni finished as the top goalscorer while Hildah Magaia was awarded the Player of the Tournament accolade.