BULAWAYO – Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis appears to be having doubts about starting goalkeeper Roxanne Barker in Sunday’s Cosafa Women’s Championship final against tournament hosts Zimbabwe in Bulawayo (kickoff 3pm).
Her indecision stems from Barker’s performance in the semi-final victory against Zambia on Thursday, in which South Africa had to fight back from 3-0 down to progress via a penalty shootout.
Ellis’ other option between the sticks is Andile Dlamini, who is yet to concede a goal in the tournament.
Banyana had to find an extra gear to cancel out Zambia’s lead, netting thrice in the space of seven minutes in the final quarter of the game.
Banyana interim coach Ellis commended her players for the fighting spirit they showed, but added that the team could not afford another poor performance in goal if they were to walk away with winners' medals tomorrow at Barbourfields Stadium.
“I told the girls during the halftime break that if they didn’t want to play for the technical team, then they should play for the badge and the people back at home,” Ellis said. “I asked them how badly they wanted the win.
She added: “I also advised them to go back out there and fight for the desired result, which they did."
With regard to the issue of the goalkeeper fielded on Thursday, Ellis said: “We spoke to our goalkeeper coach (Lucky Shiburi), and he recommended we field Roxanne ahead of other keepers because of her height.
“However, that decision ended up not working for us and we’ll really need to be spot on in our decision (of who gets to start in goal) this time around.”
Meanwhile Banyana centre-back Noko Matlou believes there is a way to close down Zimbabwe striker Rutendo Makore in the final.
Matlou has studied how the Zimbabwean national side play, and says she’s confident they’ll be able to close down the hosts’ deadly finisher, who’s been a menace in and around the penalty area.
“I’ve been studying her movements and I know what we can do to close her down,” Matlou said. “Rutendo can shoot with either foot and can be deadly if you allow her room to take those shots at goal.
“This is one player we’ll have to monitor and mark really tightly throughout the match.”
Zimbabwe beat Kenya 4-0 in their semi-final.