Banyana in Zim­babwe for Cosafa women’s soc­cer cham­pi­onship

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THE SOUTH African se­nior women’s na­tional team has safely ar­rived in Bu­l­awayo, Zim­babwe on a flight, which they shared with the Mada­gas­car team.

The two nations are in the coun­try to com­pete in the 2017 Cosafa Women’s Cham­pi­onship that will take place from to­mor­row till Sun­day,Septem­ber 24.

De­siree El­lis’ charges are in Group C with Namibia, Le­sotho and Botswana. The South Africans, who have been in camp since Tues­day,Septem­ber 5 will open their ac­count in this year’s edi­tion with a clash against Le­sotho to­mor­row.

“Camp went very well, we had a cou­ple of very good ses­sions. Not play­ing a game is a bit of a set­back but we had a prac­tice match against boys from the School of Ex­cel­lence and it was a good ex­er­cise as it showed us a cou­ple of things that we still need to work on, and we will fix those be­fore we face Le­sotho,” said El­lis, the Banyana Banyana in­terim head coach.

“The good thing is that the bulk of the team is made up of play­ers who have been in the squad be­fore so it’s a con­tin­u­a­tion. We also have a few who have just re­turned from the World Stu­dent Games in Taipei, and they are look­ing much more stronger and en­er­gised, which au­gurs well for us in the tour­na­ment.”

A solid plan

El­lis says the tricky part is play­ing three games in four days, which might be heavy for the play­ers as it will be en­ergy-sap­ping, more so be­cause of the hot con­di­tions in Zim­babwe. But they have a solid plan, more so be­cause the first game is very cru­cial.

“We have to man­age our play­ers be­cause the first two games are back-to-back, with the next one only two days later – so we have planned it very well to plan very well to make sure we keep the play­ers fresh and en­er­gised and be ready for the en­tire tour­na­ment, not just the open­ing matches,” added El­lis. “Our first game is key, so we have to start off on a good note be­cause it gives you mo­men­tum when you start with a win.”

In the ab­sence of reg­u­lar cap­tain Ja­nine van Wyk, vice-cap­tain Re­filoe Jane will wear the arm­band for the tour­na­ment.

“There’s no doubt about Re­filoe Jane, she also has the ex­pe­ri­ence of cap­tain­ing the World Stu­dent team for two back-to-back edi­tions – 2015 and 2017 – and al­ready in camp she is lead­ing by ex­am­ple, just by her ac­tions on the field and the way she car­ries her­self. I be­lieve, with­out a doubt, she is ready to lead to the team,” El­lis added.

SA and Le­sotho meet at the Lu­veve Sta­dium. The sec­ond match against Namibia the next day will be played at Bar­bour­fields Sta­dium.

Banyana Banyana and Botswana will lock horns in the last group stages fix­ture on Sun­day, also at Bar­bour­fields Sta­dium.

The top team in each pool ad­vances to the semi-fi­nals as well as the best-placed run­ner-up. The South Africans will have their first train­ing ses­sion in the af­ter­noon.

– Zim­babwe, Zam­bia, Mada­gas­car, Malawi

– Kenya, Mau­ri­tius, Mozam­bique, Swazi­land

– South Africa, Namibia, Le­sotho, Botswana ANA

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