LONG-OVER­DUE SUC­CESS

Kick Off - - Feature -

Safa Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee mem­ber Anas­ta­sia Tsich­las, who served as the act­ing-pres­i­dent of the 2018 CAF Women Na­tions Cup, be­lieves that Banyana Banyana’s qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the World Cup has been long over­due. “This was a good tour­na­ment not only for Banyana Banyana, but for South African women’s foot­ball as a whole,” Tsich­las says. “My opin­ion is that we were the best team of the tour­na­ment by far. Of course, the con­di­tions were not easy and the cli­mate was not ideal, and that is why I want to con­grat­u­late Banyana for a great achieve­ment. The Nige­rian team was used to the con­di­tions and we were not, and this is some­thing we must think about in fu­ture. Maybe we should play more friendly matches in coun­tries where they have sim­i­lar con­di­tions to where these tour­na­ments will be hosted. But the Banyana play­ers showed a lot of char­ac­ter and dur­ing the two matches we played against Nige­ria, we didn’t con­cede a sin­gle goal. And you know in penalty shootouts, they can go ei­ther way.” From CAF’s per­spec­tive, Tsich­las be­lieves the South African women’s team won the hearts of many and be­lieves they can do the busi­ness in France. “I was there for the whole tour­na­ment, and from CAF’s point of view, ev­ery­body was so amazed,” she says. “CAF of­fi­cials were telling me that our team is so dif­fer­ent. The way we played from the first game, they saw the ded­i­ca­tion. Now there is hope for young play­ers to take the foot­ball route ei­ther by be­com­ing play­ers or of­fi­cials – it’s an open door at the mo­ment. Ev­ery­one is ex­cited by the team’s qual­i­fi­ca­tion. “This suc­cess was achieved through putting the puz­zles pieces to­gether. Ev­ery­one at Safa loves Banyana and ev­ery­one is very sup­port­ive of the team which is very im­por­tant. Hav­ing a coach that un­der­stands what the team wants to achieve and how the play­ers feel is also very im­por­tant. Play­ers must feel they have a good coach who un­der­stands them.”

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