Defending champions South Africa and Eswatini claimed victories on the opening day of the 2020 COSAFA Women’s Championship that is being staged in Nelson Mandela Bay to get their campaigns off to positive starts.
Hosts South Africa beat Angola 2-0 in a tough, physical encounter, while Eswatini rallied from two goals down to claim a 4-2 success over Comoros Islands.
It was a successful start to a competition that is being played behind closed doors, and is the first international women’s tournament on the African continent since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
South Africa had to work hard for their opener against a resolute Angola defense, their numerous forays towards the visitors’ box held at bay by the powerful defenders.
The breakthrough did finally come on 39 minutes though as a cross from the right was turned into the net by 18-year-old Lonathemba Mhlongo, whose deft touch was needed to take it away from Angola goalkeeper Rita.
Mhlongo later had a header cleared off the line, but it was 2-0 just past the hour-mark as a raking cross to the back post was bundled over the line by substitute Karabo Dlamini, with some help from the post.
Comoros were denied a first ever COSAFA Women’s Championship victory when they let a 2-0 lead slip to lose 4-2 to Eswatini, who played with the wind in their backs in the second period and overwhelmed their opponents.
Playmaker Abdourahmane Hairyat put Comoros ahead with a super strike from all of 30-yards, the ball sailing into the corner of the net with the Eswatini goalkeeper well beaten.
That was the way it stayed until halftime, and when Comoros doubled their advantage early in the second period, they looked odds-on for the win. The 17-year-old Anllaouia Hadhirami Ali showed strength to hold off the defender and shoot low underneath the keeper.
But from then on in it was all Eswatini. Phumzile Dlamini pulled a goal back from a free-kick, before Tenanile Ngcamphalala beat the Comoros goalkeeper at her near post with a low shot.
The game turned completely on 75 minutes when Mokgale Nonjabuliso fired home to break Comoros hearts, with Dlamini getting her second late on.
Comoros will be disappointed to have let their lead slip, but it was still a vastly improved performance from last year when they conceded 35 goals in three games.
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