Banyana prepare for Olympics’ qualification

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Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says it is important for the senior men and women’s national teams to do well to inspire the rest of the country.

Bafana Bafana finished third in the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, while Banyana Banyana did well to reach the knockout stages of the Women’s FIFA World Cup last year.

Banyana are in camp preparing for the two-legged tie against Tanzania next week in a bid to qualify for 2024 Paris Olympics. There is so much excitement in the South African football at the moment. The two senior national teams have performed beyond expectations in recent months.

“Before Bafana went to the AFCON, I said to someone please judge them after the tournament because many people did not believe in the team. We didn’t have many people that believed in the players, so I was one of those cheering and I was excited when they did well because they are senior national team just like Banyana. Because if two national teams perform all the time, it sets the trend to the rest of the country in terms of football and it’s important that we push on and qualify,” says Ellis.

Banyana qualified for the 2012 London Olympics in Britain and 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil. But the team missed out on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Banyana goalkeeper Andile Dlamini was part of the Olympics in 2012 and 2016 and is hoping to inspire young players.

“It’s very important for any senior player to be a motivator in the team and to also inspire and also raise awareness of how big the competition is. It is totally different because top countries go there to compete for the Olympic medal and being an Olympian is very great so getting there you need to be mentally focused and this is things we are talking about and there are so many opportunities you are being there; you are seen by the world.”

Banyana are also the current African champions. Midfielder Kholosa Biyana was part of the team that missed out on the Olympic qualification four years ago. She says it will be very important to qualify for the global games this time.

“Most players that didn’t qualify in the last Olympics are still here now it was a sad moment and I was also there, and we don’t want to go through those emotions again and we are doing our best to qualify for the Olympics and that’s the only box we haven’t ticked.”

Banyana will meet Tanzania away in the first leg on the 23rd of this month, with the return leg in Mbombela four days later.

Video: Banyana set sight on Olympics