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Sports News of Tuesday, 21 November 2000

Source: SA

Black Queens Fail To Reach Finals

Banyana in final against Nigeria

Johannesburg - Songs of joy and happiness reverberated throughout Vosloorus Stadium on Tuesday in celebration of Banyana Banyana's qualification for the final of soccer's African Women's Championship.

South Africa, who escaped by the skin of their teeth in a 1-0 win over Ghana in their semifinal, will meet Nigeria at the same venue on Sunday.

Playing at the Makluhong Stadium in Tembisa, the Nigerians totally humiliated Zimbabwe 6-0, with three goals coming in each half

Jo-Anne Solomon scored the South African goal that brought a deafening roar to a packed stadium in the 13th minute.

South Africa lived on borrowed time as Ghana tried to equalise in a number breaks, but the home team defended as if their lives depended on this match.

Their opponents, who looked good on the counter-attack, could not match the skilful South Africans.

Even the inclusion of Sheilagh Okine, the feared midfielder who added stability to the Ghanaian game, did not help.

Instead, Banyana Banyana stepped up a gear and forced their taller opponents, who mastered the aerial balls, to back-pedal.

Referee Fatou Gaye of Senegal, who was booed several times for dubious decisions, turned into a star for the home crowd when she blew the final whistle for regulation time.

A jubilant SA coach Fran Hilton-Smith praised her side for doing enough to be in the final.

"A victory against Nigeria will be the cherry on top," said Hilton-Smith. "I know the girls will do it."

Her assistant Shakes Mashaba, the SA Under-23 men's coach, added that the girls' wish to finally play Nigeria had been a long time coming.

"We did not reach the final stages when the competition was held in Nigeria, but they always wished to play them and that is now going to happen on Sunday," said Mashaba.

"I want to make it clear that we will never fiddle with the winning combination."

Solomon, who steered her country to the final with a neat goal in the exciting game, could not control her glee, but dedicated the victory to her teammates.

"A promise to score a goal or two was made in the change-room before the match and I happened to be the one who scored," she said of her 21st goal for Banyana Banyana.

"I am happy," added the 25-year-old Spurs FC striker.

The Zimbabweans must have felt some sense of relief when the final whistle went as they were totally out of their depth against the Nigerians.

It took only three minutes for the Super Eagles Falcons to take the lead through Olaiton Yusuf and 30 minutes later Maureen Mmadu extended it to 2-0 when she tapped the ball past goalkeeper Siduduziwe Nkomo.

Mercy Akide, Nigeria's leading goal-scorer, added the first of her two in the 40th minute and a second in the 65th.

In between Rita Nwadike slotted the fourth goal in the 51st minute and Kikelomo Ajayi rounded off the rout with a sixth goal in the 78th.

Zimbabwe will have some chance to redeem themselves when they play Ghana in the third-place playoff on Friday. - Sapa