Banyana on rise but can go fur­ther

Sowetan - - Opinion -

It’s in­evitable that con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sages are pour­ing in thick and fast from all quar­ters for Banyana Banyana’s Thembi Kgat­lana and De­siree El­lis after they scooped CAF gongs this week.

Golden girl Kgat­lana and master tech­ni­cian El­lis hoisted the coun­try’s flag high when they were named African Women’s Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, re­spec­tively, at the CAF Awards in Dakar, Sene­gal, on Tues­day.

Kgat­lana be­came only the sec­ond South African player, after Noko Mat­lou in 2008, to win the award. Fur­ther­more, her goal against neme­sis Nige­ria at the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Na­tions (Aw­con) was pub­licly voted Goal of the Year.

The 22-year-old US-based for­ward net­ted five goals in to­tal at the bi­en­nial show­piece – a feat that saw her fin­ish as top goalscorer.

Banyana fin­ished as run­ners-up and se­cured a maiden qual­i­fi­ca­tion to the Fifa Women’s World Cup. We are proud of Kgat­lana and El­lis, as well as the en­tire Banyana squad, for their as­cen­dancy in African foot­ball.

Banyana are now set­ting their sights on the global spec­ta­cle in France this year. They have been drawn in what has been dubbed a “group of death” but we have noth­ing but con­fi­dence they will con­quer the world in France.

Un­for­tu­nately, our girls don’t have a spon­sor worth its salt as they rely solely on Sa­sol.

Sa­sol, who we ap­plaud for stand­ing by Banyana, can’t do ev­ery­thing for Banyana alone. Now Safa must up the game and lure more spon­sors for Banyana.

It’s an in­sult that Bafana Bafana pocket more hefty ap­pear­ance fees than Banyana de­spite their con­tin­ued fail­ures. Safa should chan­nel Bafana’s bonuses into Banyana’s empty cof­fers be­cause they don’t de­serve them.

As con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sages pour in, we also ex­pect some com­pa­nies mas­querad­ing as spon­sors to come for­ward and as­so­ciate them­selves with the Banyana brand. Our girls don’t de­serve hand­outs from com­pa­nies whose in­ten­tions are purely cheap pub­lic­ity. Like they did with the R100 000 MiWay of­fer, Safa should re­ject such of­fers.

Mean­while, the news that Egypt, and not SA, will host the 2019 Africa Cup of Na­tions is wel­come. Bafana should not qual­ify for tour­na­ments through board­room de­ci­sions but through blood, sweat and tears.

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