BANYANA DE­SERVES THIS

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AF­TER three wins on the trot, Cape Town City are in a buoy­ant mood and keen to con­tinue their win­ning mo­men­tum when they tackle High­lands Park in a PSL fix­ture at Makhu­long Sta­dium in Jo­han­nes­burg on Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon (3.30pm kick-off).

But, while coach Benni Mc­Carthy was happy with the 2-1 away win over Polok­wane City on Tues­day night, he had words of praise for the op­po­si­tion. The Lim­popo Prov­ince team gave the Capeto­ni­ans prob­lems through­out the 90 min­utes. Even when they had their cap­tain, Jabu Maluleke, sent off in the 68th minute, it didn’t stop their hard work. They kept fight­ing and, in the end, they were un­lucky not to snatch a point.

“I was happy with the re­sult,” said Mc­Carthy. “The team was fan­tas­tic. The plan, es­pe­cially early on, was not to let Polok­wane set­tle down – and then, when we cre­ate chances, to be clin­i­cal. That’s what we got with the early goal.

“Af­ter that, Polok­wane were al­ways chas­ing the game and we got the sec­ond goal. But to­wards the end, the team gave me a few grey hairs, but credit to Polok­wane; they re­ally came at us and put pres­sure on our de­fence. But, still, I think we were de­served win­ners.

“We’ve got a nice group of play­ers go­ing here and we are start­ing to show on the field what we are do­ing at train­ing. It’s now three (wins) on the bounce – so it’s just on­wards and up­wards for us.”

Much has been dis­cussed about City’s flu­ent pass­ing style of foot­ball – but Tues­day’s vic­tory proved that Mc­Carthy’s men also have grit and com­mit­ment.

PSL FIX­TURES

TO­MOR­ROW

Chippa United vs AmaZulu

SAT­UR­DAY

High­lands Park vs Cape Town City (Makhu­long Sta­dium, 3.30pm); Golden Ar­rows vs Kaizer Chiefs; Or­lando Pi­rates vs Mar­itzburg United; Black Leop­ards vs Bid­vest Wits

SUN­DAY

Bloem­fontein Celtic vs Polok­wane City; Su­perS­port United vs Mamelodi Sun­downs AF­TER de­fy­ing the odds and lead­ing Banyana Banyana to their maiden World Cup tour­na­ment, coach De­siree El­lis has re­fused to take all the credit for her team’s suc­cess, in­sist­ing it took a col­lec­tive ef­fort.

The South Africans booked their ticket to the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France cour­tesy of a 2-0 vic­tory over Mali in the Africa Women’s Cup of Na­tions (Aw­con) semi-fi­nals in Ghana on Tues­day.

“It’s never about me but it’s been about the group of play­ers and the team,” El­lis said. “They al­ways come first and the re­wards that come with it are a bonus. You are in the job to make a dif­fer­ence. I never had an op­por­tu­nity to go to the World Cup or the Olympics (as a player) but I can proudly say that as a coach, I am an Olympian and will be in the World Cup.”

A great run

It been a great run for Banyana un­der the guid­ance of El­lis, who took over the reins per­ma­nently nine months ago, hav­ing pre­vi­ously served for 18 months as in­terim coach af­ter the de­par­ture of Dutch­woman Vera Pauw.

In Au­gust 2017 El­lis led Banyana to the Cosafa Cup ti­tle in Zim­babwe to be­come the first player and coach to achieve the feat.

Banyana suc­cess­fully de­fended their ti­tle this year in Port El­iz­a­beth. At the re­cent SA Sports Awards they bagged the Team of the Year award, while ear­lier in the year they scooped the Caf Team of the Year gong.

“When I was in­terim coach for a year and-a-half and peo­ple kept ask­ing me, ‘how do you work?’ I said to them that if you are an act­ing CEO then you can’t do half a job but you’ve got to work, work and work,” El­lis said. “I just wanted to make sure that I do the best I can.

“If I wasn’t go­ing to be the coach, but make sure that the team is in good shape for some­one else, I was al­ready plan­ning ahead. And here we are, head­ing to France, so it’s been an in­cred­i­ble year and I am re­ally grate­ful.”

Banyana have reached the semi-fi­nals of the last two Aw­cons, but on both oc­ca­sions they were out­mus­cled by Nige­ria. And they lost to Ivory Coast and Ghana in the third place play-off.

En­ter El­lis.

Banyana opened this tour­na­ment by beat­ing the de­fend­ing cham­pion Su­per Fal­cons. Af­ter top­ping Group B, where they also beat Equa­to­rial Guinea and drew with Zam­bia, the Malians were no match for SA in the semi-fi­nals.

“We an­a­lysed Mali very well be­cause we knew that they have good play­ers,” said El­lis.

“We also strate­gised to put Bam­banani (Mbane) on the striker (Bas­sira Troure) who was re­ally dan­ger­ous, and she was re­ally mag­nif­i­cent. We made sure that we didn’t give them an op­por­tu­nity and we were in con­trol of the game.”

Banyana will face the Su­per Fal­cons in the fi­nal on Sat­ur­day at Ac­cra Sta­dium (6pm kick-off).

MIHLALI BALEKA

Pic­ture: Gavin Barker Back­pagePix

REBEL YELL: Siya Kolisi of South Africa leads his team onto the field; and it seems he may be do­ing just that at next year’s World Cup tour­na­ment too.

Pic­ture: Syd­ney Mahlangu Back­pagePix

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