Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has stressed the significance of starting their journey to secure a spot in next year’s Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) on a positive note.
Banyana begin their quest for a berth in the next edition of Awcon, to be hosted by Morocco from July 2-23, by facing Mozambique in the qualifier’s first round at Estadio Nacional do Zimpeto in Maputo today (3pm).
“We have to make sure that we get off to a good start. The first leg is always very vital,’’ said Ellis, who on Monday was named in Fifa’s technical advisory group, alongside a whole host of big guns in women’s football, including Nigeria and Barcelona star Asisat Oshoala .
Banyana thumped Mozambique 3-1 in their last Group A tie of the recent Cosafa Cup in Gqeberha, where they eventually failed to defend their crown after losing to Malawi in the semifinals two weeks ago. Ellis doesn’t reckon their previous victory over Mozambique will count today.
“Having played them [Mozambique] before at the Cosafa Cup, I think they know about us more than they did before now. I must say it’s important to say that that Cosafa game is behind us, so we must not think it [having beaten them] gives us any sort of an advantage over them,’’ stated Ellis.
The return leg is scheduled for next Tuesday at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto. The winner will face either Algeria or Sudan in the third and final round, where the winner will form part of the 12-team Awcon finals in Morocco.
Meanwhile, Fifa’s technical advisory panel, which is led by two-time Women’s World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis of USA, was established to tackle topics such as a Fifa Women’s Club World Cup, increased visibility and participation, Fifa international windows, prize money and the possibility of staging a biennial Fifa Women’s World Cup among other subjects. This is according to a statement published on Fifa's website.