Banyana coach faces tough choices
Banyana Banyana coach Vera Pauw finds herself between a rock and a hard place: go all out in the All Africa Games (AAG) or save the best for the Olympic Games qualifiers.
Pauw will lead Banyana at the AAG next month in CongoBrazzaville, although her focus will be on the Rio Olympic Games qualifier.
Banyana, who are two games away from booking their place at the Games, will have to fight it out with Equatorial Guinea for a spot in Rio.
Equatorial Guinea stunned Africa’s number one team and favourites Nigeria in their qualifiers to book a date against Banyana as their last hurdle in October.
While Pauw wants to lift the AAG title, she said her priority was to qualify for the Olympics. Banyana qualified for the 2012 London Games and want to make it two in a row.
Guinea did not qualify for the Congo games.
The Banyana coach said that, as much as the team wanted to win the AAG, she would use the tournament as a preparation for the Guinea match.
Banyana finished as runners-up on two occasions and would want to go for gold this time.
However, Pauw said they were not under pressure to win the event.
“It is very special this year because it’s a lead-up to our qualifiers against Equatorial Guinea. So, it’s a tournament that doesn’t stand on its own,” said Pauw.
“That doesn’t mean it is not important. We try to win every game. We see the All Africa Games as a tournament to win.”
She said the AAG could not have come at a better time as a base from which to assess players.
Banyana will be without several key players, but Pauw said this would give others a chance to show what they could do.
Striker Jermaine Seopesenwe, and other US-based players Thembi Kgatlana, Robyn Moodaly, Kelso Peskin and Kaylin Swart, will miss the trip to Congo, while goalkeeper Roxanne Barker has been included in the team depending on whether her Icelandic club, Thór-KA, will release her or not.
Banyana will open the tournament against Cameroon next Monday, before taking on Ghana two days later. Their third opponents, Egypt, have pulled out of the tournament.
MIXED EMOTIONS Banyana coach Vera Pauw wants to qualify for the Olympic Games