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Banyana Banyana can't rest on their laurels against DRC, says Hildah Magaia

Hildah Magaia does some stretching during training

Hildah Magaia says Banyana Banyana will have to be at their best fo their Olympics second leg qualifier against DRC. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Oct 30, 2023


Banyana Banyana striker Hildah Magaia says they’ll have to be at their best against the Democratic Republic of Congo this afternoon to progress to the next round of the CAF Olympic Games qualifiers.

Banyana have had a hectic schedule in the last few months. They played in the World Cup, where they finished in the round of 16 for the first time, before facing the United States in two friendlies away.

The Desiree Ellis' coached team had to roll up their sleeves again and return to competitive football last week as they faced DR Congo in the Olympic qualifiers.

Banyana bagged a draw in Kinshasa after the game ended 1-1 in the first leg, while the return leg is scheduled for this afternoon (4pm kick-off) at Orlando Stadium.

And having the Springboks made history by defending their World Cup crown in Paris on Saturday night, Banyana will be eager to make their own piece of history in the Paris Games next year.

But before they can think that far, they have to ensure that they get the better of DRC in this qualifier and progress to the next round.

“We are home. So it’s not going to be easy for them, but it will be easy for us,” Magaia said.

“Playing away is always a problem, we encountered the heat (in DRC) and playing on artificial grass caused us some blisters.

“I believe that when we are home, we’ll bring out the best in ourselves.”

Sure, Banyana have a chance to finish the job at home but DRC still taint the hosts' intentions of progressing to next round of the qualifiers if the win 1-0.

And having crashed out in this round of the qualifiers for the Tokyo edition, Magaia has mentioned what they need to do in order not to be caught with their pants down.

“It’s very important for us to keep a clean sheet today," Magaia said.

"I believe that we are one foot in, and we’ll work very hard as the team to go with two feet in."

Banyana’s clash this afternoon will see a lot of players return to the national team, having Ellis dealt with major blows such as visa issues, exam schedules and injuries prior to the first leg.

Mexican-based striker Jermaine Seoposenwe is also available for selection after missing out on the first leg, while Linda Motlhalo is also expected to start today after Ellis rested her for the last game due to arriving late in camp.

But while those availabilities augur well for Ellis and the team, all eyes will be on Magaia to live up to the lofty billing of her nickname ‘the national breadwinner’.

Magaia has scored some crucial goals for Banyana over the years, including the Wafcon winning brace last year. Hence she’s been regarded as the person to go for crucial goals.

Magaia, though, is not fazed by that responsibility as she’s ready to serve the nation whenever she’s called upon.

“My job is to play for the national team and make the nation happy. If I were to say the nation can’t rely on me then I wouldn’t be here,” Magaia explained.

“The nation can rely on me as the breadwinner and I’ll always do my best - as I always do - to deliver for them.”