Banyana Banyana ahead of their departure for the Women's Afcon tournament. Photo: @Banyana_Banyana on twitter
Banyana Banyana’s 2014 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Awcon) squad member Amanda Dlamini has bemoaned a lack of international exposure as the reason for the disappointments in the past two continental showpieces.

However, she is convinced the current generation has the ethos to compete, especially with Nigeria.

With the 2018 Awcon scheduled to commence in Ghana today, Banyana will open their account tomorrow against the Super Falcons at Cape Coasts Sports Stadium. The two African giants met in the last two semi-finals of the Awcon  in 2014 and 2016  and the Nigerians were victorious on both occasions.

“In our group, we thought we had a chance. It was good because we tried to avoid each other (as favourites),” Dlamini said as they managed to book themselves a meeting with the Super Falcons in the last four after finishing second in Group B.

At the time, Banyana had only goalkeeper Roxanne Barker playing overseas, while the rest were plying their trade in the local Sasol League.

On the other hand, the Super Falcons had quite a number of European and America-based players due to their dominance of the Awcon.

By this margin, Dlamini believes they were outplayed by their international experience.

“We thought could match them, in terms of play,” said the player-turned-pundit.

“We also created chances but they got only one chance towards the end of the match and made it count. They had more overseas based players, while we were mostly locals, so it was matter of experience.”

Banyana failed to qualify for the 2015 World Cup in Canada as they lost to Ivory Coast in the third/fourth place play-off.

Fast track to two years after the disappointment in Nambia, Banyana also failed to clinch a top-three finish in Cameroon. They suffered the same hoodoo to Nigeria through a 1-0 loss in the semi-finals, while that was followed by a similar defeat against Ghana in the battle for a top-three spot.

Bambanani Mbane, who was in defence for Banyana in the 2016 edition, shared Dlamini's sentiments.

“We didn’t have a tough group,” she said. “I just think that we were not prepared, mentally and physically. Our opponents were physically strong. We tried to get out of the group stages because we lost in the semi-finals. I don’t think we did badly too, because Nigeria only scored in the second-half.”

In ensuring that they compete in this year’s edition of the Awcon, Banyana have at least four overseas-based players in their midst  Linda Mothlalo, Thembi Kgatlana (Both Houston Dash, US), Refiloe Jane (Canberra United, Australia) and Leandra Smeda (Gintra Universitetas, Lithuania)  while captain Janine Van Wyk recently returned from Dash.

Although this will enhance Banyana as they go toe-to-toe with the 10-time African Champions, Dlamini has called for realism within the team.

“The coaches should be realistic and everyone should be on the same page,” Dlamini said.

“I have no doubt they’ll go through to the semi-finals because we also have the same experience but they should avoid aiming too high. I hope everyone can come on board about that.”


Independent on Saturday 

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