Banyana Banyana clash with Botswana at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, (15h00) in the much anticipated Cosafa Women’s Championship final looking to avenge the defeat they suffered at the expense of The Mares in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics qualifiers.
It still rankles Banyana coach Desiree Ellis that her side lost 3-2 via the lottery of a penalty shoot-out to Botswana at the Orlando Stadium back in 2019, September in the second round of the 2021 Tokyo qualifiers.
The teams could not be separated over the two legs of the contest, forcing the tie into penalties with Botswana crushing Banyana’s Olympic dream – aspirations of making their third successive Olympic Games.
The pain of that defeat clearly still lingers, and Ellis would love nothing more than to get even in what promises to be a thrilling encounter today in Port Elizabeth.
“Today is the day we have been working towards, the final. We are playing a familiar team, Botswana and results have been close in the past. Last year they knocked us out of the Olympic Games qualifiers, and I am expecting another tight game,” said Ellis.
South Africa are favourites to clinch a record fourth Cosafa Championship title in a row and overall seventh but Ellis is also wary of the growing threat posed by Botswana, who booked a place in the final of the regional tournament for the first time.
“They beat worthy opponents in Zambia [2-1 in the semifinal] who are going to the Olympics. It is another tough match ahead of us,” added the Banyana mentor.
“We just have to make sure that we do not concede as we will always create opportunities because we are a team that creates opportunities then we have to be clinical in front of goal.”
Banyana have been impressive in the Cosafa Championship as they have now scored 20 goals in four matches at an impressive average of five goals per game, winning all their matches while only conceding two goals.
“But we have planned properly, and I always say if we execute our plan we will come out with a positive result. We will have to stay calm and concentrated for the duration of the match.
“Botswana will wait for the moments and we have to be ready for those moments to stop them,” concluded Ellis who has challenged her fresh-faced charges to write their own history as Banyana chase a new record at the Cosafa Championship.
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