Banyana Banyana hold Chile to a draw

Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana relinquished their lead and ended up with a 2-2 draw in their historic clash with Chile at Estadio Santa Laura in Santiago.

The fixture took place in the early hours of this morning South African time (Wednesday, 10 October).

South Africa’s head coach Desiree Ellis made three changes to her starting line-up, and they seemed to pay dividends – Rachel Sebati, Thembi Kgatlana and Melinda Kgadiete came in for Kgaelebane Mohlakoana, Leandra Smeda and the suspended Jermaine Seoposenwe.

The match started at a very fast pace with both teams having a go at each other, and several chances created in the opening minutes of the stanza.

Kaylin Swart had to come to Banyana Banyana’s rescue as early as the second minute after her defence was split apart, but she reacted quicker to block a shot with her feet, and danger was averted.

A minute later Refiloe Jane saw her header go over the bar, as she was unmarked at the back post.

But she was not to be denied in the 5thminute when she found the ball and with acres of space raced towards goal, and scored – her fourth in three games.

She was also the goal scorer in the last encounter between these two nations where South Africa lost 2-1. Jane’s other two goals were in the final of the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship in Port Elizabeth to help Banyana Banyana retain their trophy.

But from there on, it was Chile all the way as they dominated possession.

They attacked relentlessly and had South Africa on the back foot for most of the half, except in moments when the visitors got a break – like when Linda Motlhalo raced past the defence and with the keeper to beat, she decided to pass and the ball was intercepted.

In the 31stminute Banyana Banyana got out of jail when from a free kick there was goalmouth scramble and the ball hit the upright before being cleared by the defence.

Jane got another chance to grab her second of the night after goalkeeper Christiane Endler spilled the ball, but she shot wide.

Two minutes before the break Chile had a corner kick, and from a header the ball hit the crossbar before going out – and South Africa survived again.

It did not take long for the hosts to find the back of the net in the second half. Kholosa Biyana was adjudged to have found an opponent at the edge of the South African box. From the resultant free kick Ambar Soruco rose the highest and her brilliant header found the back of the net in the 53rdminute.

Banyana Banyana almost restored their lead in the 64thminute when Thembi Kgatlana dribbled past the entire Chile defence and beat the keeper but not the upright.

A minute later she outpaced her marker and this time made no mistake as she found the back of the net to make it 2-1.

Nine minutes from the break Chile broke the South Africans’ hearts when they scored the equaliser – again from second half substitute Javier Grez’s header coming from a free kick.

Banyana Banyana seem to be struggling when it comes to defending set-pieces as this is the third header to be scored by Chile in two games.

All in all it was a much-improved performance from South Africa compared to the first game they lost 2-1, and perhaps good preparation for next month’s Africa Women’s Cup of Nations tournament in Ghana.

Both Banyana Banyana and Chile were using these matches for preparations – the visitors for AFCON, while the home side for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup where they will be making their debut.

South Africa will be plaing in the AFCON from 17 November to 1 December, and the tournament doubles as the African qualifiers to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The top three teams will qualify for the World Cup in France.

Banyana has now played 14 matches since the beginning of the year – winning eight, drawing three and losing the other three.

Banyana Banyana will fly back on Wednesday, 10 October and are expected to land at the OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday, 11 October at 07h35.