Banyana left to rue missed chances

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That trait puts the side in an awkward position after playing to a goalless draw with Zimbabwe in their opening match of the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWC) on Saturday.

Banyana must now get a result against the hosts Cameroon on Tuesday at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo to keep their aspirations of being African champions alive.

“It’s a story that we have talked about before,” Ellis said. “I don’t think that we would have scored even if we were given an extra 30 minutes. Coming to the Cameroon match, it becomes the most important game for us to go forward. It won’t be easy. But we have shown that we can fight to the bitter end. We don’t give up. We could have won it right at the end against Zimbabwe. That’s the strength of our team; we don’t give up no matter what.”

Ellis continued: “The group is still wide open. Anything can happen right until the end. We have to play to our best. I felt that we could have done better. We will encourage the players. They are disappointed but we have to lift them up. All is not lost. If you have a good start to a tournament, it sets the tone. I wouldn’t say that it’s a good point but I wouldn’t also say no to a point.”

For Zimbabwe, this was a hard-earned point but for Banyana it was two points dropped. They can’t afford to drop any points, especially against a Cameroon side that wants to top the group and give their vocal fans a lot to cheer about. Cameroonians packed the stadium four hours before their 2-0 win over Egypt. This tournament has captured the country’s imagination and interest with huge billboards of their senior women’s national team all over the capital.

Being on top of Group A after the first round with three points - followed by Banyana and Zimbabwe who are tied on a point and then Egypt at the bottom with nothing - will further increase the fanfare.

“We will use the motivation that they have the whole nation backing them to work twice as hard,” Banyana vice-captain Refiloe Jane said. “We still have our fate in our hands, which is a good thing. We need to continue that and not reach a point where we need teams to do us favours. We need to win against Cameroon and Egypt. We just need to do our job because we want to see ourselves in the final and winning the gold medal.”

To do that, Banyana must stop Gaelle Enganamouit who makes Cameroon tick. The blonde-haired forward, who plays in Sweden, is the Cameroonians’ heartbeat when going forward. She was a handful for the Egyptians, creating pace with ease. That space is exploited by Gabrielle Onguene who received a standing ovation when she was substituted. How Banyana and Zimbabwe perform against Cameroon could decide who joins the hosts in the knockout stage.

“Cameroon aren’t going to find it easy to beat South Africa or us,” Zimbabwe’s coach Shadreck Mlauzi said. “It’s still game on. It was always going to be a tough group with the hosts in it. But we all have a chance.”

The Star

*Njabulo Ngidi is in Cameroon courtesy of Sasol

Original source: Banyana left to rue missed chances

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