Banyana coach faces tough choices

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

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.

PHOTO: LEFTY SHIVAMBU / GALLO IM­AGES

MIXED EMO­TIONS Banyana coach Vera Pauw wants to qual­ify for the Olympic Games

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