Cosafa Women’s Championship
Banyana Banyana display depth but fall victim to complacency in Mozambique clash
South Africa are through to the last four of the Cosafa Women’s Championship. However, coach Desiree Ellis cautioned against complacency if they are to successfully defend their crown.
Top scorer in the previous edition of the Cosafa Women’s Championship, Sibulele Holweni, scored a brace as South Africa overcame a determined Mozambique to seal a 3-1 victory and book their place in the semifinals of the 2021 tournament, which is taking place in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape.
Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies’ forward Melinda Kgadiete added her own name to the score sheet to complement Holweni’s efforts and ensure that Banyana finished at the top of Group A after their three games.
“We have very good depth in our team, with lots of experience and a mixture of young talent coming through,” Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk said of the team’s composition recently.
With overseas-based players including Thembi Kgatlana, Refiloe Jane and Jermaine Seoposenwe not part of the Banyana’s defence of the Cosafa crown that they won last year, the depth that Van Wyk, who herself recently announced that she has departed Glasgow City in Scotland to rejoin JVW in the local Hollywoodbets Super League, refers to becomes clearer.
With a crucial Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifier coming up against the same opponents later in October, Ellis was most pleased that despite some errors the team managed to achieve the desired result on the day.
“We started very well. We could have been 2-0 up in the early stages of the game. We had some great chances,” said Ellis. “When we scored, we almost took our foot off the pedal and that is when you need to take control of the game and make sure that you play to your tempo and make the opponents play at your tempo.”
Banyana fell into the same trap of complacency that they did after taking the lead against Nigeria in the Aisha Buhari Cup recently. Although, just like they did in Lagos, the South Africans lit up in Gqeberha to take control of the tie once more.
Despite this, Ellis will be hoping the team can do away with the habit of relaxing after taking the lead, especially if they are to bring home their first AWCON title after finishing as runners-up five times.
“We knew that Mozambique was going to come at us, we have seen their games and they don’t give up. We were talking on the bench that we needed that second goal, but then we defended poorly to concede and it was back to chasing the game,” said Ellis after the eventually emphatic win over Mozambique.
Her side had come into the tie under some pressure after having won one and drawn one in their opening group games.
“We were not worried about what was happening in the other game between Angola and Malawi, we just knew that we had to win our game and the team showed great resilience, character and mental strength that is second to none. A lot of them come from the Buhari Cup and most are being challenged, mentally and physically, but I think everyone that played today, stood up,” continued Ellis.
Their semifinal opponents are yet to be determined, with one key match still remaining in Group C, between Zambia and Uganda.
Ellis is aware, though, that whoever they encounter in the last four, they will have to be less complacent and more disciplined if they want to reach their fourth consecutive final in this competition.
Banyana have won the Cosafa Cup a record six times and are gunning for a fourth title in a row in the regional tournament.
“We have got to be better going into the semifinals because there is no room for error there,” the coach said. DM
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