3 July 2022 – Banyana Banyana got their Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) campaign off to a fine start with a victory over the Super Falcons of Nigeria in their Group C opener at Prince Moulay El Hassan stadium on Monday evening.
The South African senior women’s team coach Desiree Ellis looked back at her side’s gutsy display and said the victory has set the tone for the rest of the continental tournament.
“We knew that we could not physically match them, we knew that our strength was putting the ball on the ground, and we wanted to move the ball much quicker, even though I felt like our ball rotation in the first half was very slow,” said Ellis.
“We just had to keep the momentum going and stay focused at the back.”
“We controlled the tempo and I feel the players controlled the ball much better in the second half.”
Ellis praised midfielder Linda Motlhalo, who joined Banyana Banyana camp later than the other players but was still able to produce a deft display that won her the woman of the match accolade.
“I actually asked Linda for 45 minutes as she had joined the camp late, but the player gave me more than what I asked for,” she said.
When asked about the coming group matches against Burundi and Botswana, Ellis emphasized that no team should be underestimated in the tournament.
“We won’t underestimate any team that is here. I have watched the previous games and one should underestimate a team at your own peril, and this game [against Nigeria] is now behind us.”
“We just need to show consistency. This victory is for everyone back home, all the coaches that have put in the great work and the people that are connected to women’s football.”
“We know there are some challenges back home and we are trying to give hope to our country.”
Senior Manager, Group Brand & Sponsorships at Sasol Nozipho Mbatha also expressed her satisfaction with the opening victory.
“It was a fierce and high energy start for Banyana Banyana today for their first match. Their performance cemented our sentiment of Live the Impossible. Winning is clearly their end-in mind and we are here to support them till they lift the trophy in victory,” said Mbatha.