Tame draw for Banyana Banyana
Banyana Banyana have been handed what looks a gentle draw in the pool stages of the 2018 Cosafa Women’s Championship that will be staged in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality from September 12 to 22.
SA‚ who have selected a full-strength squad for the regional tournament‚ will face-off against Botswana‚ Madagascar and Malawi in Group A.
Coach Desiree Ellis is using the tournament to prepare for the crucial 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations that gets under way in Ghana in November‚ and which will serve as qualifiers for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
“People might look at this and think it is an easy group‚ but nothing is easy in this game‚” Ellis said. “Botswana gave us a good run last year [in a 1-1 draw]‚ so we know what we are up against.”
Group B contains Zambia‚ who have also qualified for the Women’s Nations Cup‚ Central African guest nation Cameroon‚ Lesotho and Mozambique.
Cameroon are ranked third on the African continent after Nigeria and Ghana‚ and their inclusion in the field this year will certainly add some intrigue.
Group C sees Zimbabwe‚ runners-up to SA in 2017‚ take on Swaziland‚ Namibia and East African guest nation Uganda.
Only the top three teams and the best runner-up advance to the semifinals.
SA have won four of the previous five regional tournaments‚ only missing out in 2011 when they were defeated by Zimbabwe in the decider.
Ellis has selected all of her overseas-based players‚ including the Houston Dash trio of captain Janine van Wyk‚ Thembi Kgatlana and Linda Motlhalo.
Banyana have never qualified for the Women’s World Cup before and that remains a major aim for the side this year.