JOHANNESBURG – Knowing that a win against Equatorial Guinea tonight at the Cape Coasts Sports Stadium- in the second match of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations group stages - will move them closer to the semi-finals, Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis is thrilled that her players have kept a calm attitude despite their historic win over Nigeria.
On Sunday, in their Awcon opener in Ghana, Banyana defeated the 10-time African champions for only the second time in 11 meetings.
However, Ellis is adamant that her experienced campaigners have ensured that the team is back from the jovial mood and are ready to battle for three points against the wounded Guineans who were hammered 5-0 by Zambia in their opener.
“After losing so heavily to Zambia, they’ll be difficult to face because they’ll come out fighting,’’ Ellis said. “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. For some, this is their last opportunity to go to the World Cup. And the beauty of this group is that we celebrated on the night and went on to prepare for the next game.”
With a World Cup qualification only secured through a top-three finish at the continental showpiece, Ellis is adamant that a whitewash in the group stages will be a good stepping stone for the remainder of the tournament. The South Africans also have a score to settle against Equatorial Guinea who beat them 4-0 defeat in the Awcon 2012 final. However, that revenge will have to come through grabbing all three points, tonight, and putting one foot in last four.
“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.
We want to leave it in our hands, so tonight’s game is just as key as the first game was. We want to continue with the winning feeling.”
Ellis, far from taking credit for Sunday’s win, insists that it took a team effort to beat Nigeria.
“It was sweet victory for all of us and you cannot help but smile when you think about the moment,” Ellis said.@Mihlalibaleka