Fixture changes in the Aisha Buhari Cup will now see Banyana Banyana in the same group with their biggest rivals Nigeria, as well as Ghana, but coach Desiree Ellis believes this a challenge that the team needs ahead of the start of the tournament on 15 September in Nigeria.
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Initially, the South Africans were meant to battle it out with Ghana and Cameroon in Group B of the six nations tournament, with Group A seeing Nigeria taking on Morocco and Mali.
Ellis knows that both Nigeria and Ghana have been preparing thoroughly in the last few months with training Mali, while Banyana haven’t been much active.
“Now that fixtures have changed, we are playing our big rivals Ghana and Nigeria and it is going to be a challenge. But we want a challenge, we haven’t played in a while, we lost 18 months, but in between there has been some football. Even though Nigeria has been active, we know they have been at four nations, the US, Portugal and Jamaica. They also had a big camp in Europe with local and overseas based players. Ghana has been in camp as well,” said the Banyana mentor.
Meanwhile, Banyana midfielder Mamello Makhabane is adamant that the team is ready for the challenge and everything is going well in camp, stating that the tournament will be an eye opener for them.
“I think the ladies have been doing very well. We have been playing in our teams because the league is still on, so, the level of fitness is really high. But there is room for improvement, everything is going well, even the training and the girls are positive and they are working very hard,” said the Midfielder.
“I am very excited because it’s been long we last played competitive games. So, this games are going to weigh us and as a player, it will show where you are with your football (improvement wise).”
Ellis and her troops have been in camp in Johannesburg since last Sunday, and they are expected to depart for Nigeria in the next coming days.