Banyana Banyana has failed to get past the semi-final stage in the last two Africa Women Cup of Nations events, but coach Desiree Ellis says they have to do it this time around. It is non-negotiable, she says, as they are just a win away from realising their dream of playing in the World Cup.
The top three sides in the Africa Women Cup of Nations qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in France next year. Banyana Banyana booked their spot in the semi-final when they drew 1-1 against Zambia on Saturday.
“The players have talked about this. Now is time to walk that talk. It is not negotiable after everything that has happened: the support of Sasol, the South Africa Football Association (SAFA), the fans, coaches that have sacrificed, players that have sacrificed… it is definitely not negotiable we just have to do it,” says Ellis.
WE CERTAINLY DON’T WANT TO GO THROUGH THE HEARTBREAK OF PLAYING THE THIRD/FOURTH PLACE PLAYOFF AGAIN!
South Africa will fight it out against Mali in the semi-final tomorrow at the Cape Coast Stadium with a spot in the final, as well as the Women’s World Cup up for grabs. Ellis will be approaching this game like a final as she is very aware that a win means they will be going to France to compete at the biggest stage of them all.
Africa Cup of Nations
In the last two editions of the Africa Women Cup of Nations, Banyana Banyana finished fourth. Ellis says they want to improve and now, most importantly, with the World Cup spot up for grabs, it is not negotiable. They have to win.
“We have to play through whatever tiredness… it is going to take a superman-effort to realise our dream, with the tired legs, having played three games, having to travel back to the Cape Coast.”
Banyana Banyana – Unbeaten So Far
Banyana Banyana are unbeaten so far in the tournament with two wins and a drew. But Ellis says it won’t be easy against Mali.
“We have to be on top of our game for the full 90 minutes. They have knocked out the hosts, and Ghana is a pretty good team. They ran Cameroon very close, had a tough one against Algeria, and had the extra days to rest too. They have a bit of advantage.”
This is Banyana Banyana’s seventh semi-final in a row since exiting in the group stages in 2004.
“We are always looking at improving,” says Ellis. “We pride ourselves at being defensively good. If we can be as good defensively against Nigeria and not concede we sure will get a chance to score a goal and realise our dream of going to the World Cup.”