Scram­ble for Africa ti­tle

Kgadi­ete reck­ons Banyana’s friendly in Ac­cra on Sun­day will be se­ri­ous stuff in build-up to Cup of Na­tions

Daily Dispatch - - Sport - MFUNDO PILISO mfun­dop@dis­patch.co.za

Banyana Banyana for­ward Melinda Kgadi­ete from Mdantsane says their friendly en­counter against Ghana in Ac­cra on Sun­day will give them much-needed in­sight on what to ex­pect at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Na­tions tour­na­ment.

The African Women’s foot­ball show­piece sched­uled for Ghana from Novem­ber 17 to De­cem­ber 1 is also a 2019 Fifa Women World Cup qual­i­fier. The teams end­ing in the top three po­si­tions in Ghana, will go on to rep­re­sent the African con­ti­nent at the World Cup in France in June 2019.

Banyana have been drawn in Group B for the Cup of Na­tions that also com­prises de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Nige­ria, Kenya and Zam­bia.

Kgadi­ete said they were look­ing for­ward to the friendly en­counter against the host na­tion as it would set the tone for the tour­na­ment.

“The good thing is that we are still ooz­ing with con­fi­dence, af­ter hav­ing de­fended our Cosafa cham­pi­onship ti­tle.

“Plus last month we were in Chile to play friendly games, and I think we did okay there con­sid­er­ing the fact that Chile is one of the most com­pet­i­tive sides in the world.

“They [Chile] are a big team and they’ve al­ready qual­i­fied for the World Cup, so that tells you that they’re a high qual­ity team.

“And I think we did well for our­selves there, be­cause we lost 2-1 dur­ing the first en­counter and then in the last game we drew. So that’s not bad for us at all, play­ing a team that’s al­ready qual­i­fied for the World Cup,” Kgadi­ete told the Dis­patch.

In June the player sus­tained a knee in­jury. “I was out of ac­tion for a month, so I had to spend two weeks re­cov­er­ing. I was pan­ick­ing be­cause an in­jury can make you fall be­hind in terms of fit­ness.

“That’s why I even dropped out of the Cosafa tour­na­ment. That hurt me but I knew I had to fo­cus on get­ting bet­ter.

“But now I’m fully re­cov­ered and I’m glad the coach thought of me and I un­der­stood her when she dropped me for the Cosafa tour­na­ment be­cause there were play­ers in bet­ter shape than I was.’’

The Bloem­fontein Celtic Ladies at­tacker said her goal was to make it into the na­tional team so she could get more game time.

“Our goal as a team is to win more sil­ver­ware and to qual­ify for the World Cup, be­cause if we are in the top three, we’ll au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify for the World Cup.

“And I’m con­fi­dent that I will make a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion. I know I have never played against those teams in our group, but in the U20 team I’ve played against Nige­ria and they were good.

“But we’ve been do­ing our re­search th­ese teams and we have planned them.”

2018 Africa Women Cup of Na­tions Banyana fix­tures:

Nige­ria v Banyana (3.30pm, Nov 18, Cape Coast). Kenya v Banyana (6.30pm, Nov 21, Cape Coast) Banyana v Zam­bia (4pm, Nov 24, Ac­cra Sta­dium). on for

PIC­TURE: SYD­NEY

MATCH SHARP: Melinda Kgadi­ete of Banyana says their friendly against Ghana on Sun­day will hold them in good stead for the Women’s Cup of Na­tions tour­na­ment

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