Bayana in a training session preparing take on Ghana in a friendly match on Sunday, November 11. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Banyana Banyana will have the first taste of conditions in Ghana when they take on the hosts in a friendly match on Sunday, November 11.

The clash is part of preparations for the two nations who have been drawn in apart in the upcoming 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations, to be hosted by Ghana from November 17 to December 1.

The two countries will face off at the Accra Sports Stadium, the venue for the final and also Banyana Banyana’s last group stage clash against Zambia in the tournament.

To play the host country in Ghana is another step to check our readiness for the tournament," said Banyana coach Desiree Ellis."Getting used to the conditions as well as playing a top team like them will give us another different challenge and prepare us for the competition. We will get to experience first-hand the atmosphere, which will almost be like what we will go through when the tournament starts.” 

South Africa have been drawn in Group B alongside Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia, while Ghana will take on Cameroon, Mali and Algeria in Group A.

Banyana Banyana and the Black Stars last met in the 2016 Afcon in Cameroon, with Ghana emerging victorious 1-0  in the third/fourth place play-off.

They are a tough nation to play against, more so because they have been in camp for quite a while now. 

Captain Janine Van Wyk and Desiree Ellis coach of South Africa during training. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Captain Janine Van Wyk and Desiree Ellis coach of South Africa during training. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

"They have lined up another friendly match against Zambia before they play us, which will give them some momentum, and they will really challenge us - which is what we need,” added Ellis. “I have always said before that nothing beats playing matches to prepare for a tournament because in that way you are able to pinpoint areas where you need to rectify. 

"After playing the Cosafa Cup we now need to take it a notch higher to get to where we want to be at the end of the Afcon.”

In the tournament, Banyana Banyana will open their account with a clash against Nigeria, who are the defending champions. Next up will be Kenya before rounding off the group stages when they take on Zambia.

The first two fixtures will be played at the Cape Coast Stadium.

The top two sides in the groups will progress to the semifinals – and the top three nations will qualify for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France in June.

Ellis is expected to name her final squad of 21 players on Wednesday, November 7, two days before South Africa depart for Ghana. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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