Banyana on rise but can go further

Striker Thembi Kgatlana (L) and coach Desiree Ellis (R) pose with their Caf Awards.
Striker Thembi Kgatlana (L) and coach Desiree Ellis (R) pose with their Caf Awards.

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 R100000 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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