Home Sport Soccer Banyana ready to earn their stripes against the Zebras

Banyana ready to earn their stripes against the Zebras

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They’re always a very difficult side to play against, because they are a rival

Desiree Ellis coach of South Africa during the South Africa training session on Sunday. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana may have played to a goalless draw with Botswana in the first leg of their Olympic qualifier on Friday but coach Desiree Ellis says they’ll churn out their best performance against the neighbours in the second leg..

The South Africans will be looking to get their scoring boots on when the two teams meet at Orlando Stadium, Soweto, tonight (kick-off 7pm).

“I also looked at the footage and I think we rotated the ball too slowly,” Ellis said. “The pitch was very bumpy, so we didn’t want to dig deep but they sat on the counter with long balls. But we are coming home to familiar surroundings, so we hope to use our strength and rotate the ball around. We’ve also looked at how we can maximise our scoring chances from set-pieces.”

Sure, the Zebras of Botswana may have been the regional enemies for the South Africans, but missing out on the Cosafa Championships early last month may have given the latter a chance to be at their best tonight.

Ellis is confident that her side is able to withstand any sort of pressure that might come their way.

“We are disappointed with ourselves that we didn’t play as well as we wanted to,” Ellis said. “But we owe the fans back at home a very good performance.

They’re always a very difficult side to play against, because they are a rival. But in the past, we’ve also made it difficult for ourselves by making the games close.

“We’ve got to make sure that we score the first goal.”

Before, Banyana’s biggest downfall was their inability to convert their chances up front. However, Ellis’ team showed a potent side during the recent Cosafa Championship in Port Elizabeth, scoring more than 22 goals, while they conceded only three times.

Going into their clash with the Zebras this evening, the South Africans need goals more than anything – especially considering the new rule of the world events.

CAF has 1.5 spots in the Olympics matches, meaning the winners in the fifth round of the qualifiers will automatically go through to the Games, however, the runners-up will play Chile in the play-offs.

The new rule may be unfamiliar territory for the South Africans, but having successively made it to the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, they’ll be eager to make it the third time in a row.

“We are very confident, especially after having a look at the footage from the first leg,” Ellis said. “Sometimes, we really look at it and think that we haven’t rotated the ball long enough.

“Maybe the pitch (being bad) played a huge role, but it’s not an excuse, if you are comfortable with rotating the ball, then you take three-four touches instead of two. Playing at Orlando Stadium should suit us.”

Meanwhile, interim captain Refiloe Jane will hope to continue leading her team to victory, especially in the absence of injured skipper Janine Van Wyk.