Safa vice-president Ria Ledwaba wants Banayna to impress on the African stage. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
While the country’s women’s national team are hoping to cement their 2019 World Cup qualification spot via this year’s Africa Women Cup of Nations tournament, Safa vice-president Ria Ledwaba has urged them to reach the final of the continental showpiece.

For Banyana Banyana to make the global showpiece in France, they’ll require a top-three finish in the Awcon that will be held in Ghana from November 17 to December 1, which is something they have failed to achieve in the past two editions.

The dangle of a carrot that Ledwaba has thrown to the team will advance them to also compete in the inaugural 2020 Fifa Women’s World Soccer League that has two African slots.

“For us, the key is the World League," Ledwaba said at Banyana’s Awcon qualification celebratory press conference this week.

“We definitely want to participate in the league and we don’t want to wait for it to start and take part at a later stage.

“Currently, Nigeria and Ghana are the top two countries in Africa, and there’s only two spots open, so that is why we need to be among the finalists in the Awcon. That’s our number one priority.’’

Ledwaba also used the platform to confirm that the highly anticipated Women’s National Soccer League would be in full swing as of 2019. This league is set to be in a 12-team format with nine coming from the play-offs of the ongoing Provincial Sasol League and one from the University League, with Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic to be given “special entrance’’ as a token of gratitude for their contribution to women’s football.

Banyana have had to depend solely on Sasol for cash injections over the years, so when former Ria Stars club owner Ledwaba was asked about whether they had already secured sponsors for the inaugural league, she gave an unconvincing answer: “No, we haven’t yet found the sponsors but we are negotiating with a lot of them. However, I want to confirm that the league will definitely happen in 2019."

Banyana’s shortcomings in the past haven’t only been falling short of bagging sponsors but they’ve also had notable differences with the SABC. There was an uproar from the public last weekend when the national broadcaster failed to broadcast the Awcon qualifier against Lesotho in Bloemfontein.

With such impediments, it further came as a shock when Ledwaba also confirmed that they would be bidding for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup. Ledwaba played down negativity and said as a nation they could always draw inspiration from hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“We’ve done the bidding for the World Cup before," she said. “So this is not about Safa but a country at large. We are also banking on the support of the government when hosting a major event. And we are fortunate enough that we have the Sasol Women’s League because not all African countries have such leagues."


Saturday Star

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