Banyana Banyana advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations following a 3-1 Group C victory over Burundi at Prince Moulay EL Hassan Stadium on Thursday.
Thembi Kgatlana’s thrust Banyana in front 20 minutes into the contest, before Aniella Uwimana hit back for Burundi on the half-hour mark.
But South Africa regained their lead two minutes later through Amogelang Motau and Linda Motlhalo made an immediate impact after coming on from the bench by converting a penalty in the 54th minute.
Although they failed to take advantage of Burundi playing the final 17 minutes with a player down and win by a wider margin, Banyana still took control of Group C following their victory.
Having beaten Nigeria 2-1 in their tournament opener, they went three points on top of the group, waiting for the outcome of the match between second-placed Botswana and the Super Falcons that was scheduled for later on.
Burundi remained at the foot of the pool with no win after they were beaten 4-2 by Botswana in their opening game.
Banyana coach Desiree Ellis made four changes to the team that started against Nigeria, starting defender Bongeka Gamede for Mamelodi Sundowns’ Bambanani Mbane.
In midfield, 20-year-old Karabo Dhlamini was in the line-up after missing the Super Falcons clash while Djurgarden’s Motlhalo started from the bench.
Robyn Moodaly and Motau who both came off the bench in the last match were in the starting team as Sibulele Holweni was a substitute while Sweden -based attacker Hilda Magaia was absent after grabbing Banyana’s second goal against Nigeria.
Banyana dictated the pace from the first whistle as they searched for an early goal but only found the breakthrough in the 20th minute through Kgatlana.
SC Braga forward Jermaine Seoposenwe could have extended Banyana’s lead in the first half stoppage time but was denied from the penalty spot by Burundi goalkeeper Jeanine Irakoze.
Ellis and her girls went into the half-time break knowing they could have been leading by a much healthy scoreline had they not missed gluttony of chances in the opening stanza.
Another penalty then came for South Africa nine minutes after the restart when Kgatlana was fouled inside the box by Irakoze who this time around was beaten by substitute Motlhalo.
But Motlhalo then missed a glorious opportunity moments later when she rounded Irakoze who had come off her line but shot just wide.
Irakoze then made up for it by saving from Refiloe Jane on 68 minutes.
Further advantage came the way of Ellis’ girls, but this time being a numerical edge, when Burundi substitute Annociate Nshimirimana lasted only 23 minutes on the pitch after being red-carded for fouling Seoposenswe.
Another glorious chance went begging for South Africa after 18-year-old debutant Nthabiseng Majiya failed to direct her shot in goal at close range.
Banyana kept on struggling to break Burundi who were a player short and had to contend with a 3-1 win.
Next up for South Africa is their last group game against Botswana on Sunday as they seek to complete a 100 percent record in this stage.