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SA national women’s soccer team players on the training field. Picture: LEFTY SHIVAMBU/GALLO IMAGES
SA national women’s soccer team players on the training field. Picture: LEFTY SHIVAMBU/GALLO IMAGES

Banyana Banyana have a date with destiny when they take on Algeria in the second leg of their 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Algiers on Wednesday where failure will see them miss the continental finals and the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup.  

Banyana lead 2-0 from the first leg where they wasted opportunities to make the tie safe and will hope they are not left to rue those blunders. It is likely to be a different ballgame in Algeria, where the home side will put them under pressure and must come out to attack to try to close the deficit.

The speed of Thembi Kgatlana can be used to get behind the defence of the home side, while one goal for the visitors will leave the North Africans needing to score four times to advance.

But Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says they cannot bank on winning with so much at stake.

“The tie is not over; we have to make sure we do not concede. They are going to have to come at us. They are a team with a good fighting spirit. They never give up. When you go away from home it becomes difficult. They are 2-0 down, so they have to be different.

“We have to make sure we don’t concede, because we will always create chances. If they do open the game up, the speed of our players will create a lot more openings. If we score then you can almost say the tie is over, but we have to make sure we don’t concede first.”

Ellis says one of her aims before the game is to make sure the players don’t already believe the job is done. “When you are watching the video with the players you don’t want to give the impression the game is going to be easy. You need to keep them focused so they know there is ‘a game’.”

Hildah Magaia and Kgatlana scored the goals in the first leg at the Orlando Stadium on Friday, but Ellis conceded that the players left more out there. That has been a problem for the national side in the past, with a number of failed qualifications not due to defensive frailties but rather an inability to convert scoring opportunities.

“We need a bit more composure in the box. Having space [in the box] but not using that space to have a better angle and instead shooting straight at the keeper. We have always said that is our achilles heel and we have to keep working on it.

“We know the heartache of not taking our chances. We have to make sure we work on our finishing. The tie could have been over if we had taken our chances.”

Banyana have won all three competitive meetings with the Algerians, having also defeated them 4-0 at the 2006 Cup of Nations and 5-1 at the tournament in 2014.

The leading four teams at the 2022 Cup of Nations will advance automatically to the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year, with another two to enter the continental play-offs. Ten teams will vie for the remaining three places in that competition.   

 

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