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firmly grounded


Banyana Banyana will be taking nothing for granted against wounded Nzalang Nacional

NO COMPLACENCY: South Africa players know full well that they can leave nothing to chance when they take on Equatorial Guinea in their second group match of the Africa Womens Cup of Nations tonight. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix

According to Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis, her troops are level-headed going into their second group stage match against Equatorial Guinea at Cape Coast Sports Stadium tonight (kick-off at 8:30pm).

It’s been a dream start at the ongoing Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) for Banyana after pulling off a historic victory over Nigeria in round one – courtesy of a strike from Thembi Kgatlana.

However, Ellis has insisted that victory is a thing of the past as her players are raring to go against the Guineans who were, reinstated back into the tournament two weeks ago and hammered 5-0 by Zambia in their opener.

“It’s always difficult to face a team that has lost so heavily because they’ll come out fighting,’’ Ellis acknowledged. “But when I looked at our players during training they are level-headed because we’ve got a lot of experience.

“So they are keeping everyone grounded because for some, this is their last opportunity to go to the World Cup. The beauty of this group is that we celebrated the night and went on to prepare for the next game.”

It’s the third Awcon tournament since the introduction of the rule that credits teams which finish in the top-three with a World Cup qualification spot.

In the last two editions, Banyana failed to clinch that spot as they lost to Ivory Coast and Ghana in the third/fourth place play-offs respectively.

To some, their hoodoo draws back to the 2012 continental showpiece, when they lost to tonight’s opponents, Nzalang Nacional, in the final.

But this time, the 55-year-old coach says, they won’t leave any stone unturned.

“We want to leave nothing to chance in the last game, so we want to make sure that we get three points (tonight),” Ellis said. “We have a fantastic group of players and we know what’s at stake. In the last game, it might be a whole (different) scenario and we don’t want to be involved in that,”

Although, Banyana and Shepolopolo (Zambia), will square off in the last stage match of group B on Saturday, Ellis is delighted that both Southern-based countries are, at the moment, on the verge of knockout qualification.

Both teams used the Cosafa tournament as part of their preparations, where Banyana finished first after beating Cameroon by 2- in the final, while Shepolopolo finished fourth after a 1-0 loss to Uganda in the third/fourth place play-offs.