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banyana's final fling

By unknown | Nov 27, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

When Banyana Banyana face hosts Equatorial Guinea in the final of the sixth African Women's Championship on Saturday they will do so with a sense of optimism that has not been evident in a long time.

Having trounced semifinals adversaries Cameroon 3-0 on Tuesday, the South Africans will take on the hosts, who reached this stage courtesy of a 1-0 win over defending champions, and Banyana's hoodoo team, Nigeria.

With Nigeria out, and in spite of the opponents' home-ground advantage, if they play their cards right South Africa will be unstoppable.

The hosts reached the final by also beating Congo Brazaville (5-2), Mali (2-1) and Cameroon (1-0).

But striker Noko Matlou has emerged as Banyana's trump card, scoring a hat trick on Tuesday, and taking her tally in this tournament to five.

But regardless of who wins, history will still be made on Saturday, as Nigeria has monopolised this tournament since its inception in 1991.

South Africa last played in a final in 2000, with Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba at the helm.

Riot police had to be called in that year when local fans protested in Johannesburg, forcing the match to be abandoned with Nigeria leading 2-0.

Former Banyana players this week gave their views on how they see the team's chances and they said it was crucial that Banyana get their tactics spot-on on Saturday.

Former goalkeeper and television presenter Gloria Brown said Banyana's task was made easier by Nigeria's elimination, but that things will not be cut and dried.

"This won't be easy. Guinea has beaten Cameroon and Nigeria - there's got to be something special about them. The result will be very close," Brown said.

She predicted a 1-0 win for Banyana.

Former captain Desiree Ellis's verdict was: "If we do not win it now, we never will. We must not underestimate them. And whatever we do, we must not let them lead - that's how they got rid of Nigeria," Ellis said.


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