LEANDRA Smeda’s goal earned South Africa a 1-0 win against Lesotho in the first leg of the Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifier at Setsoto Stadium yesterday.
Mehalalitoe now hope for better luck when they travel to South Africa for the return fixture set for Petrus Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
Banyana Banyana made their intentions clear from the kick-off and came knocking onto Lesotho’s goal but twice saw their strikes been cleared from the goal line.
The Desiree Ellis’s coached outfit broke the deadlock after just eight minutes through a long range shot from Smeda from outside the penalty area. The shot found goalkeeper Thato Maifo out of position.
The visitors kept dominating possession for the most of first half as Lesotho struggled to connect with passes leaving their lone striker Senate Letsie frustrated up front.
It took the home side 42 minutes to make the first shot at goals with forward Litšeoane Maloro attempting Banyana goalkeeper Roxanne Barker from long range.
The match went for the break with Banyana Banyana still in the lead.
Lesotho made a double substitute immediately after half time and introduced veteran midfielder Makobo Kepa for Lerato Rasello while Kholu Lieta came in for struggling Phuzile Molefe.
Banyana Banyana made a defensive substitute and introduced Zanele Nhlapo for Regina Mogolola after 54 minutes.
Kepa gave Lesotho better quality in the middle of the park and prompted improved possession and better creativity in attack but it did not yield.
Banyana Banyana introduced Chantelle Essau on 67 minutes who came in for Noko Matlou and introduced Gabriella Salgado for Kgaelebane Mohlakoana five minutes later.
Lesotho continued to keep possession but struggled to penetrate South Africa’s disciplined defence.
The visitors nearly came close to their second goal after they caught Lesotho on a counter on the 79th minute. Refiloe Jane disposed Letsie and passed to Jermaine Seoposenwe whose shot narrowly missed the target.
Lesotho made their last substitution two minutes later as Maloro was replaced by Relebohile Akhente after a muscle injury.
The match ended with the visitors victorious but Ellis said she was still not satisfied.
“We were sloppy in our finishing and you can tell we could have won by a wider margin if we had we had utilised our chances,” Ellis said.
“Lesotho were hardly threatening and it almost looked like it was too easy and in such instances, players lose focus. However, we got the goal that we needed and we hope for another positive result in the second leg in Bloemfontein.”
Mehalalitoe coach Monaheng Montšo on the other hand said his charges came to the party late.
“We conceded too early and that affected us mentally hence we only started to play in the second half. South Africa played well we still have a chance in the second leg,” Montšo said.