Cape Times

Sharp-shooting Banyana itching for Awcon


BANYANA Banyana’s stroll in the Aisha Buhari Cup has painted an image of their readiness ahead of the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations and 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup qualifiers.

Even though they rank among the heavyweigh­ts on the continent, Banyana are yet to be crowned the African Queens.

Late in 2018, they reached the final of the continenta­l showpiece and qualified for their first ever World Cup.

In France, though, their novice status was exposed. They crashed out in the group stage, following losses to Spain, China and Germany. But their coach Desiree Ellis believed that that was a learning curve and they’d bounce back stronger. Fast track to 2021.

Banyana appear to have grown in leaps and bounds. Following their failure to qualify for the 2022 Olympic Games in 2019, they’ve won two back-to-back Cosafa Cups – taking their tally to seven trophies overall. Most recently in Nigeria they bagged the maiden edition of the Aisha Buhari Cup against the continent’s finest nations. They opened their account with a 3-0 win over Ghana, a side ranked fourth by CAF.

Next they met the home side. The Super Falcons are the highest ranked nation on the continent followed by Cameroon, while Banyana are third.

The Nigeria-Banyana match was seen as a repetition of the 2018 Awcon final where Nigeria prevailed.

Ellis’ side, though, tamed Nigeria in front of a packed Mobolaji Johnson Arena as they went to half-time 3-0 up! Despite Nigeria replying with two early goals in the second half, a late Mmamelo Makhabane penalty sealed the victory for Banyana.

Thembi Kgatlana may have not scored in their last outing against the reigning Queens of Africa but her runs – and ability to find pocket spaces – tired their defence which led to costly mistakes as they conceded three penalties.

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