JOHANNESBURG - Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis is wary of the danger that Botswana pose ahead of their Cosafa Cup tie at Isaac Wolfson Stadium this afternoon (kick-off at 3:30pm).
Both sides are on three points after bagging wins in their openers against Madagascar and Malawi respectively. But it is Botswana who occupy the summit of group A on a goal difference advantage. The host nation and regional tournament defending champions’ coach says they cannot risk taking their neighbours for granted as they know each other too well.
“We are neighbours and when we play each other it’s always a tough battle,” Ellis said. “They know about us as much as we know about them. We have to prepare very well, and ensure that we execute that plan. We won’t take anything for granted, hence we have to thoroughly see how the opposition plays and make sure that we prepare to the best of our abilities, because this is the most vital game of them all."
At some stages against Madagascar, Banyana took their foot off the pedal, thus allowing the opposition back into the game after taking an early 2-0 lead. As a result, they ended the game player down. However, Ellis was pleased with her team’s resilience that saw them get a couple of shots on target.
“We created a lot of opportunities in the second half, and since the goalkeeper (Verosantatra Diana Andrianandrasana) was the Lady of the Match that shows how much we got the balls on target," she insisted. “I am happy with the result but I still believe that we can improve our performance going forward."
The US-based trio Janine van Wyk, Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana all made the bench against Madagascar but they didn’t feature due to a jet-lag. Van Wyk and Motlhalo were not part of the team during last year’s triumph in Bulawayo, while Kgatlana was voted Player of the Tournament. The trio was named on the bench again for the match against Botswana, with Ellis making four changes to the team that won the opener.
Goalkeeper Kaylin Swart has replaced Andile Dlamini, while Noko Matlou comes in for Regina Mogolola. Nothando Vilakazi, who played left wing in the last fixture, starts at leftback in place of the suspended Thato Letsoso. And Chuene Morifi will occupy the left wing position.
Banyana Banyana team: Kaylin Swart, Lebohang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Noko Matlou, Khanya Xesi, Gabriela Salgado, Jermaine Seoposenwe, Bambanani Mbane, Morifi Chuene, Refiloe Jane (captain), Nompumelelo Nyandeni. Subs: Roxanne Barker (GK), Janine Van Wyk, Kgaelebane Mohlakoana, Regina Mogolola, Linda Motlhalo, Thembi Kgatlana, Andile Dlamini (GK), Kholosa Biyana