Banyana Banyana prepare for African Women’s Championship
Written by Mbali Mokoko
Banyana Banyana is hoping to repeat their 2012 African Women’s Championship feat when they face Nigeria in today’s semi-final of the AWC. At the same stage of the 2012 tournament in Equatorial Guinea, Banyana were 1-0 winning over the Super Falcons, only to lose in the final to the host nation. The super Falcons have so far scored 12 goals compared to the 6 that our national woman’s team has managed. One of Banayana’s trump cards for today’s match will be Portia “Bashin” Modise. Modise scored a brace during South Africa’s 5-1 victory over Algeria on Saturday and with it, achieved what only 13 other people have done in world football by scoring her 100th goal in national team colours. Noko Matlou has also been a pillar of strength for Banyana and her experience showed, when she put in a great performance against The Algerians.
After stuttering early on in the competition with a loss and a draw in their first two matches, the pressure on Vera Pauw’s charges seems to have lifted after they banged in 5 goals in their last game against the North Africans. But the issue of the goalkeeper remains unresolved. Many South Africans are concerned about how Roxanne Barker has performed in goal. Barker, who plays overseas, was controversially given the number one jersey ahead of locally-based Thoko Mndaweni who had been first choice up until the start of the tournament. This decision raised a few eyebrows and had many wagging their fingers on social media when the self-same Barker produced a howler in Banyana’s opener that gifted Cameroon the match.
Barker looks certain to continue with goals for today’s semi-final against Nigeria and will draw strength from a better performance against Algeria. The Falcons have dominated women’s football on the continent for the last two decades, having won the biennial tournament 8 times since its inception in 1991. Not only will a win for Banyana qualify them for Saturday’s final, but it also means they secure a spot in next year’s women’s World Cup in Canada. A loss would mean that the girls have to play in the third/fourth place playoff which they’d have to win in order to book their tickets to Canada 2015.
There are only 3 spots for African teams at next year’s World Cup, so qualifying for the tournament for the first time in our history would definitely raise the profile of women’s football in South Africa. Modise is well aware of the weight of expectations that lies on her and her team mates now and that they are on the cusp of the World Cup.
Talking to Kaya Sport, Bashin says she is overwhelmed by the love she has been getting since scoring her 100th Banyana goal and wants to repay that love by qualifying for the World cup. The girls are definitely upbeat and Coach Vera Pauw seems to have instilled a renewed sense of confidence in the team. Good luck Banyana!