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Banyana in Zimbabwe for Cosafa women’s soccer championship

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Hot weather conditions may be heavy for players but they have a solid plan as the first game is extremely crucial

Desiree Ellis interim coach of South Africa during Banyana Banyana training.

The South African senior women’s national team has safely arrived in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on a flight, which they shared with the Madagascar team.

The two nations are in the country to compete in the 2017 Cosafa Women’s Championship that will take place from tomorrow till Sunday, September 24.

Desiree Ellis’ charges are in Group C with Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana. The South Africans, who have been in camp since Tuesday, September 5 will open their account in this year’s edition with a clash against Lesotho tomorrow.

“Camp went very well, we had a couple of very good sessions. Not playing a game is a bit of a setback but we had a practice match against boys from the School of Excellence and it was a good exercise as it showed us a couple of things that we still need to work on, and we will fix those before we face Lesotho,” said Ellis, the Banyana Banyana interim head coach.

“The good thing is that the bulk of the team is made up of players who have been in the squad before so it’s a continuation. We also have a few who have just returned from the World Student Games in Taipei, and they are looking much more stronger and energised, which augurs well for us in the tournament.”

A solid plan

Ellis says the tricky part is playing three games in four days, which might be heavy for the players as it will be energy-sapping, more so because of the hot conditions in Zimbabwe. But they have a solid plan, more so because the first game is very crucial.

“We have to manage our players because the first two games are back-to-back, with the next one only two days later – so we have planned it very well to plan very well to make sure we keep the players fresh and energised and be ready for the entire tournament, not just the opening matches,” added Ellis. “Our first game is key, so we have to start off on a good note because it gives you momentum when you start with a win.”

In the absence of regular captain Janine van Wyk, vice-captain Refiloe Jane will wear the armband for the tournament.

“There’s no doubt about Refiloe Jane, she also has the experience of captaining the World Student team for two back-to-back editions – 2015 and 2017 – and already in camp she is leading by example, just by her actions on the field and the way she carries herself. I believe, without a doubt, she is ready to lead to the team,” Ellis added.

SA and Lesotho meet at the Luveve Stadium. The second match against Namibia the next day will be played at Barbourfields Stadium.

Banyana Banyana and Botswana will lock horns in the last group stages fixture on Sunday, also at Barbourfields Stadium.

The top team in each pool advances to the semi-finals as well as the best-placed runner-up. The South Africans will have their first training session in the afternoon.

Group A – Zimbabwe, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi

Group B – Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Swaziland

Group C – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana

ANA