It’s been a year filled with roller-coaster performances from the senior women’s national team. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Banyana Banyana may be on could nine after winning the recent Cosafa Women's Championship but interim captain Refiloe Jane says they won’t undermine Botswana in their 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifier.

It’s been a year filled with roller-coaster performances from the senior women’s national team, including three demoralising defeats in their three group matches at their maiden Women's World Cup in France.

But the tough times didn’t last long as coach Desiree Ellis's team dusted themselves off and returned to winnings ways and ended their 13-game win-less streak by winning all five matches in the regional Cosafa competition earlier this month.

Unlike Banyana, the Zebras of Botswana were private in their preparations. They pulled out of the southern African regional tournament as they held a camp in Slovakia before assembling at their local base on Tuesday.

“Playing our first leg away to Botswana won’t be easy,” Jane said.

“We know that they’ve not been to the Cosafa Cup recently, they have been preparing in camp. We have never had it easy playing them away. We just want to make sure that we get a result, especially in the first leg.”

Refiloe Jane is the interim skipper of South Africa. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Having won the Cosafa title recently, there were more positives for Ellis’s troops.

In the past, Banyana’s biggest downfall was their inability to convert most of the chances they created. However, they had no such difficulties in Port Elizabeth, having scored 21 goals while conceding only three.

Apart from that, their defence was also solid, with goalkeeper Andile Dlamini bagging the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award.

All of those positives have given Jane hope that they can take on whoever they cross paths with.

“All the teams that we play against are never easy. Looking at the fact that Botswana never participated in the recent Cosafa tournament, they were out there preparing,” Jane said.

“We are going to focus on ourselves mostly, continuing where we left off. We have the confidence and positivity in the team to go there and get the result we want.”

Their recent run of form may favour the South Africans but Jane believes that should be the fuel that drives them to be hungry for more success, instead of getting carried away and resting on their laurels.

“We always talk as a team, try to come back to earth, so that we stay focused. We have been getting the results as a team, this is another chance to keep going,” she said.

“We just want to focus on the match at hand so that we progress to the next round of qualification.”

Jane, who’ll be captaining the team in the absence of injured skipper Janine van Wyk, will be hoping to continue the trend of leading the national team to major tournament success.

In 2017 and this year, “Fifi” captained her team to their second and fourth Cosafa titles, while last year the Pimville-born footballer led Banyana to the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, where they finished second to book their ticket to their maiden World Cup.

“I am still a youngster - there are players with over 100 caps - and it’s never easy captaining older players. But with the experience they come with, they are able to guide me and show me around, and as a team we’re able to move forward,” Jane concluded.

Banyana and Botswana will clash tomorrow (7pm) in the first leg of the second round of the qualifiers at Botswana National Stadium.

@Mihlalibaleka

 

The Star

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