Banyana Banyana players during a training session. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Banyana Banyana will need to be at their best when they take the field at Antonis P Stadium in Laranca against Czech Republic in the Cyprus Women’s Cup (CWC) this afternoon (1pm kick-off).

Sure, the South Africans are still hurting from their last defeat to North Korea in the second round of group stage matches, but they should be vigilant of holding on to that pain coming into this encounter. There’s no room for thumb sucking. You see, these matches are merely about intensifying their preparations for their maiden Fifa Women’s World Cup that will be staged in France from June 7 to July 7.

Their game against the Koreans was a lesson of what they need to do in order to get the better of global showpiece counterpart China - who also hail from Asia. Today’s game against the Czechs will also be a derivative of what they need to strengthen against European counterparts the Germans and Spaniards, who they’ll cross paths with in group B.

This encounter gives Banyana the room to fix illusions such as coming from behind in order to salvage a draw or get a consolation goal - as that had been the case in three of their last four matches.

With the North Koreans through to the finals of the CWC competition after topping the group, it will be key that coach Desiree Ellis’ group hit top gear from the outset against the Czechs as a runners-up finish in the group will also propel them into a fifth/sixth place play-off.

The South Africans might be more focused on getting themselves equipped for the global tournament, but it’s always important that they instil a winning mentality as well - after all, that will be a crucial requirement if they are to make their mark among the world’s best.

Thembi Kgatlana, Lebogang Ramalepe and Linda Motlhalo are some of the players who have shown that they are hitting the right mark for the global showpiece, but Ellis still has a mountain to climb in order to get everyone to punch above their weight and ensure that they bring in their A-game.

Striker Rhoda Mulaudzi, who’s recently returned to the national team after spending some time on the side-lines, also needs to start churning out the club level performances from Australian outfit Canberra United that has seen her being voted as the Fans’ Favourite Player of the Season for her exploits in front of goal.

Furthermore, props should go to the 55-year-old coach as she’s continues to push 17-year-old Karabo Dlamini to produce her best, regardless of the performances that left a lot to be desired against Finland and the Koreans.

@Mihlalibaleka


The Star

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