Two of Africa’s finest emerging exponents in Womens soccer locked horns in a game that appeared to be a game of thin margins.
By Tongai Mwenje
It was a game that pitted, Chido, Sheilla, Lynette, Miriam, Daisy, Eunice, Rutendo, Talent for the Mighty Warriors while on the other hand South Africa had Amanda, Roxanne, Nothando, Leandra, Nompumelelo, Jane, Noko, Thembi for Banyana Banyana with both coaches also being Olympians in their own right as assistants.
The Mighty Warriors set up in a shape that was more similar to the shape that dismantled Kenya.
The hosts started with a 1-4-1-4-1 as a base formation transforming to a 1-4-3-3 in offense and on the other hand Banyana Banyana opted for a complex playing system a lopsided 1-4-4-2 formation with Jane playing at the tip of the diamond.
Noko was assigned to monitor Mighty Warriors’ lethal goal scorer, Rutendo Makore ( stuck to her task like nobody’s business) interesting tactical battles ensured while on the flip-side of the coin Zimbabawe’s Lynette duty involved policing slippery and pacy,Christine, (she had a torrid time dealing with pace, and often made many unforced and forced mistakes)
South Africa’s narrow midfield shape against Zimbabwe’s V-shaped midfield of Talent, Merjury and Berita meant that the former had an extra player in that zone giving them an upper hand and were able to settle into some early initiatives and could have gone into the break 4-0 up.
Had it not been for the profligacy of Player of the Tournament Christine, the Mighty Warriors lacked pressure in intensity leaving South Africa bossing the early exchanges while Zimbabwe huffed and puffed.
Banyana Banyana duly went into the break leading 1-0.
The Second half saw the Mighty Warriors playing with a bit of purpose though play remained quite direct most of the time due to the pressure Banyana Banyana employed.
Both sides remained with similar starting shapes. It was after the introduction of fresh pairs of legs by both teams that changed the complexion of the game. First —the introduction of Daisy for Eunice meant the Mighty Warriors played with what appeared a 1-4-2-3-1 formation.
Zimbabwe started piling the pressure and for once in the game Noko lost track of Mpostoli who nodded a thunderous header into the roof from a Sheilla cross.
Secondly, the substitution made by Banyana Banyana coach profited from an error of judgement from Majika to cross the ball to an unattended Leandra who nailed it in the 90th minute.
Where Did Mighty Mighty Warriors Lose It?
Mentally, the players lacked the hunger and desire to win football matches. The occasion demanded more than just an ordinary performance, big match temperament.
Tactically, pressing was not as intense as their game against Kenya in the semi finals. The zones of pressing were not specific enough. Rutendo was isolated and got less support from runners coming from deep to exploit space left by tracking Noko.
Physical reaction to the second ball.
Technically, they couldn’t have a sustained spell of possession, passing not as crisp as their semi final game. There was poor preparation as they spent 10 months without playing a game before heading straight to the tournament.