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Banyana a step away from closing out a glorious AWCON qualifying campaign

Banyana Banyana players are taken through their paces as they prepare for their Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifier against Algeria. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana players are taken through their paces as they prepare for their Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifier against Algeria. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Feb 22, 2022

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Cape Town — Banyana Banyana are one step away from closing out a glorious qualifying campaign that will secure the right of passage to the Total Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON), the continent's premier international football competition for women.

Armed with a 2-0 lead from last week's first leg encounter in Orlando, South Africa will face Algeria in the second leg of the final round of the AWCON qualifying in Algiers on Wednesday. The aggregate winner after this tie will play in the AWCON, in Morocco, in July.

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The tournament also doubles as the African qualifiers to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. The top four teams will qualify for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and two more teams will advance to the inter-confederation play-offs.

South Africa's primary objective will be to keep a clean sheet and that will guarantee a 2-0 aggregate win. Should South Africa score a goal or two, it will be a bonus.

Apart from her wish of coming away with a clean sheet, the South African women's national team coach Desiree Ellis, has also called on her team to capitalise on scoring opportunities. Ellis believes composure in the striking zone will help players to hit the target.

“We have to make sure that we are organized and compact in the first 20 minutes and that is going to be key," said Ellis. "The first-leg sc 2-0 is a very dangerous score. The next goal is going to be big, and we have to make sure that it is our goal to take a little bit of the pressure off.

"I have encouraged about what I saw at training (here is Algeria).

“Look, a lot of our players have been in this position before. A lot of them want to make their mark at tournaments and new players want to make a mark too.

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"They know the magnitude of the game. It is not over yet, and we had a lot of opportunities to seal it already in South Africa.

"We have to make sure when we get those chances, we are more clinical in front of goals. We must also be confident that we do not concede because that is the first key.

"The players’ mentality is on another level after we had a day and half of travelling coming here since last Friday’s match.”

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South Africa have played AWCON 12 times already and have never won the showpiece. At the last tournament in 2018, hosted by Ghana, South Africa finished runners-up, the fifth time they won the silver medal.

Algeria have reached AWCON five times but have never progressed beyond the group stages.

By Tuesday, Morocco (hosts), Uganda and Burundi have qualified. After Wednesday evening’s final round qualifiers around the continent, they will be joined by nine other teams for the event that starts on July 2.

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@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport

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