Everything is falling into place for Banyana Banyana and there is no better time for the South African senior national women’s team to lift the Caf Women Africa Cup of Nations trophy when they meet their archrivals Nigeria at the Accra Sports Stadium today.
Earlier this year, Banyana secured their second successive Cosafa Women’s tournament when they beat Cameroon in Port Elizabeth, recording five Cosafa Cup titles.
And so far the team has been in brilliant form at the Women’s Afcon, sweeping to victories over Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, before drawing 1-1 with Zambia in the group stages to advance to the semifinals where they overcame Mali 2-0 and qualified for their maiden Fifa Women’s World Cup to be staged in France next year.
Just yesterday, Banyana found out that they had been nominated for the Caf National Team of the Year, while Thembi Kgatlana and skipper Janine van Wyk were nominated for the Caf Women’s Player of the Year accolade. And to put the cherry on top, head coach Desiree Ellis was also given the nod for the Caf Coach of the Year award.
Looking at the team’s achievement, the ultimate accolade will definitely be lifting the AWC trophy which has eluded them four times already – in 1995, 2000, 2008 and 2012.
The South Africans lost to the Super Falcons in the 1995 and 2000 tournaments, but they should be confident heading into this clash after edging them 1-0 in the opening game of the group stages of the competition.
However, Ellis admits it will be difficult to beat the same team twice in one tournament, but knows her charges will do their utmost to get the victory.
“It is not easy beating the same team twice in a tournament, so we really have to pick ourselves up and come up with another top performance.
“Yes, we have qualified for the World Cup, which was our goal, but we have another final coming up and I hope we bring our A game and get the result that we want,” said the Banyana coach.
They are yet to lose a game at the competition and striker Jermain Seoposenwe believes the team has what it takes to go all the way and lift the trophy.
“I think this group is amazing, we are a special group and I have said it from the beginning. We fight for each other if somebody is down we try to bring them up and we fight on the field. We stick to what we know, play our football and grind out our wins no matter what,” said the JVW striker.
“The growth that has been happening since the beginning of the year is tremendous – how we evolved as a team, how we have become dominant, determined and play with so much passion.”