17 September 2018 –Midfielder of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, says they have to take one game at a time if they are to defend the COSAFA Women’s Championship title they won in Zimbabwe last year.
This comes after two wins in as many matches in the tournament currently underway in Port Elizabeth.
South Africa defeated Madagascar and Botswana 2-1 and 1-0 respectively to take control of Group A with six points – three more than second placed Botswana and Malawi in third place.
Madagascar is yet to register a point, and have been eliminated from the competition.
Banyana Banyana complete the group stages with a clash against Malawi this afternoon (Monday, 17 September) at Wolfson Stadium, while Botswana will take on Madagascar at Westbourne Oval.
Both matches kick off at 15h30.
In the fixture against Botswana, Nyandeni had her penalty kick saved by goalkeeper Sedilame Bosija, including the rebound – which would have given South Africa the lead. But striker Jermaine Seoposenwe saved her blushes with a last minute header that saw the hosts win the nail-biting clash.
SAFA Media spoke to Nyandeni about the tournament, the saved penalty and how she has put it behind her.
How are things in camp?
The team spirit is high, we are happy with the two games we have played so far as we prepared well for them. We are not losing sight of the target though, which is to prepare for the upcoming 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nation. As the defending champions in the COSAFA CUP, every game we play is very important – the Malawi clash is no different. We are playing at home and don’t want to disappoint our fans. Each and every match is like a cup final because when teams face us they come with a lot of determination compared to when they play other countries, so we need to be more focused and give 200 percent in our performance.
So far we are on a good run, but the wind is wreaking havoc – not only for us but also for all the teams in the tournament, we just have to adapt quickly to it. Our goal is to successfully defend our title so we can go to the AFCON highly motivated because we really want to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s Cup in France.
Good crowd coming to the games
Since we arrived in Port Elizabeth the crowd has been amazing as people come in numbers to support women’s football. And we are hoping they continue doing that as we really enjoy their presence, which gives us the much-needed boost. When we played Botswana, they lifted us and showed that they believed in us, they were behind us all the way and pushed us to play until the final whistle, which is what we did.
The match against Botswana was a thrill-a-minute
In that game I think we frustrated ourselves, and put ourselves under unnecessary pressure because we wanted to score at all costs, and we were not patient, if we were, I believe we would have got a goal early and not wait for the last minute. The other thing that played a big role was the wind – it was just too much on the day, and on the other hand we got frustrated wanting to score. It was a grudge match also because Botswana wanted to beat us at all costs, and we would not have that, hence the rushing game we played. If we were more composed it would have been a different score line. And their goalkeeper just kept on stopping the game by going down and needing medical attention, which killed our momentum and really frustrated us. But overall thanks to my teammates for never giving up, thanks to the coach and the fans for being behind us – and most importantly thank God for the win.
There was a lot of relief in the team when Jermaine scored
We were all relieved, but I was the most relieved when that ball hit the back of the net because I had missed a penalty earlier on – I was saying to myself, ‘you saved my life Jermaine’ because I was already blaming myself that I let the team down. But my teammates encouraged to keep my head up as this was part of the game, and they promised to fight until the end so we can get victory. The last 20 minutes we had asked Lebo (Ramalepe) to cross the back to the strikers, but it did not happen, and in the end it came. We really worked hard as a team and got the desired result.
What really happened with the penalty?
Before taking the penalty I had picked my spot perfectly but when I was about to kick I realised the goalkeeper (Sedilame Bosija) had covered the left side of the poles more (which is where I wanted to score), so I changed direction, and hit the ball to the right. She was able to give it a touch and it hit the upright, I took the resultant rebound and it hit her face, but did not go in – at the end of the day a save is a save. I was very sad, but now it’s gone and I am over it, it is all in the past, I am looking forward to the next game.
Your thoughts on the Malawi clash?
We should not underestimate Malawi because that will be at our peril. At the end of the day, everyone wants to beat South Africa we need to show them that we mean business. We have prepared like we are playing a cup final. We also want to finish top of the group, which means we have to win that game.
We have spoken about it as players, but in the end it doesn’t matter who we face – to be the best you have to be prepared for everyone and not choose your next opponents as they could surprise you, we should be ready for anything. But for now the focus is on Malawi, and we have to play this tournament game by game and not get ahead of ourselves as that will destabilise us in the Malawi game. We will deal with the semi-final when we get to it.