Banyana look forward to epic Nigeria test

football28 February 2024 10:56
By:Vuyo Ndudane
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Thembi Kgatlana © Gallo Images

The South African senior women's national team has progressed to the final round in the CAF Women's Olympic Qualifying tournament, following their 1-0 victory over Tanzania last night.

Banyana Banyana beat Tanzania with Thembi Kgatlana's 58th minute goal in front of the home crowd, at Mbombela stadium, in Mpumalanga.

The victory did not come easy for the home side, as the visitors strong defence gave Banyana difficulties in maintaining their formation and denying them any possible chances. However, Banyana Coach Desiree Ellis insists that the victory was guaranteed.

"I think after we've won the first leg 3-0, we knew it was mostly in the bag, we just need not to become complacent back home.”

“If we look back to the first game – the goals we scored were really good, one from the transition, one from a build-up, one from getting a second ball. So, we knew they (Tanzania) will not change the way they play,” said Ellis.

Coach Ellis brought notable changes with young blood in the line up, while resting the regular senior players, and she says that it’s a much needed act for the sake of the team.

"I made a couple of changes for freshness because there's only three to four weeks to the preseason and we want to send the players back to the clubs in good shape.”

“Playing other players is part of the squad. You look at last year, we had 11 players out against Congo, maybe, probably the youngest backline ever, 20-year-old, 21-year-old and 22-year-old playing in backline and that is the experience you can’t buy.”

“Again, I decided to rest Noko (Matlou) and Rama (Lebohang Ramalepe), they also going back to their clubs. These players are so multifunctional that when we make changes, we can put them in any position,” Ellis explained.

Next, Banyana will face rivals Nigeria in the first leg of the decider round before hosting them at home, on the date to be confirmed in April. The super Falcons secured the spot following their 1-0 win against Cameroon in courtesy of Esther Okoronkwe.

Ellis admits this will not be an easy fixture.

“We know the Nigeria game it’s not going be easy, but we have shown that we can play the best. Having our best players back will also help a lot, because when it comes to those tough matches you need players with experience, and you need to get mix right with the youth and experience.”

“Hopefully we can get that right and get the positive results first away from home again,” She concluded.

© Vuyo Ndudane