Banyana Banyana aim to wrap up 2023 on a high note

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Banyana Banyana will rely on the experience of players from Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies when they participate in the final round of the 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier. South Africa will take on Burkina Faso but the game will be played in Ivory Coast as the West Africans do not have proper facilities to host the encounter. Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies recently played in Ivory Coast, where they were crowned the CAF Women’s Champions League winners.

Banyana Banyana will be in action in midweek after recently playing in the 2024 Olympic qualifiers. South Africa are the AFCON defending champions and cannot afford to miss the tournament. But the players understand that they cannot underestimate their opponents, Burkina Faso.

“A country that I’m familiar with because we played champions league here but it’s a difficult task now playing for the national team and it’s AFCON qualifiers and I think our mentality is on a hundred because we want to qualify for the AFCON, we are the defending champions and I believe for us to win this game it’s going to give us the upper hand when we go back at home because we also don’t want pressure when we go back home. We want to play for the fans because it’s our last game of the year as well and we want to make everyone happy and proud so it’s very important that we don’t underestimate our opponents but we make sure that we do our best so that on the day we are very happy,” says Andile Dlamini, Banyana Banyana keeper.

The rest of the players should be properly managed as they have played a lot of games in recent weeks. Besides the international matches, players are also very active at club level.

“When you are a football player you choose to be one and you know there will be challenges, challenges such as one playing the CAF champions league, and coming to the FIFA break where you need to play the AFCON qualifiers, then you need to go back home and finish your Hollywood bets league games but we have incredible coaches that have been managing us quite well. Which is incredible for us as football players recovery is very important as well, also telling your mind what you need to tell it you know be positive at all times,” Dlamini elaborates.

“Just a little bit of loosening up in the beginning and then getting to feel the ball a little bit of a tactical session towards the end because we only have two days. Did a little bit of position analysis this morning so we could already immediately go into what we want to do. It’s really draining and really overcast, but very hot we have to manage that also and make sure that players take a lot of liquids and fluids in but really happy with the session. The enthusiasm is there, you know the willingness to want to do well is there like we always know,” says Desiree Ellis, Banyana Banyana coach.

The team has been strengthened by the arrival of three overseas-based players, Linda Motlhalo, Noko Matlou and Faith Nokuthula. But influential player, Jermaine Seoposenwe will miss the first leg and will only be available for the second leg encounter in South Africa.

“I can thankfully say that we have a clean bill of health. Everybody participated in training, everybody has arrived. The overseas-based players Linda, Faith, Noko arrived last night you know a little bit of a rest day yesterday, we had a long travel you know and having played immediately onto a plane and travel. So, we have to manage a lot of players have played so many ninety minutes over the last three weeks and we have to keep them fresh,” Ellis added.

The second leg encounter to be played at Atteridgeville’s Lucas Moripe Stadium will be the last match of the year for Banyana Banyana. Then the team will return to action in February 2024 to continue with their 2024 Olympic qualifiers.

Video: Banyana seek to end 2023 on a high note with Burkina Faso clash