Banyana must stand tall or fall short

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Banyana have to rise up against a tall order, their hosts Cameroon, in front of a packed stadium this afternoon (5pm) if they are to keep their aspirations of wining the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWC) alive.

Kgatlana rose up to the challenge from the local media, entertaining them with her bullish response after one Cameroon journalist said she looked too young to be here. The 20-year-old responded that this is her third major tournament - her second AWC, months after she played in the Olympics in Brazil.

“I know that it is going to be war,” Kgatlana said. “We are going to get the Cameroonian supporters to be on our side because there is nothing better than beating the home team in front of their crowd. We are looking forward to that.”

The pint-sized forward continued: “It will be like an episode of Tom and Jerry - Jerry is always being chased around by Tom. If Cameroon aren’t ready, they will have to run around on their own field, looking for us and a scoring opportunity.”

The Indomitable Lionesses, however, come into this encounter as the big cat. They are in a comfortable position after winning their first game - a 2-0 victory over Egypt. Cameroon will also be playing in front of a patriotic and vocal home crowd. The side has 10 players in their squad who ply their trade in some of the best leagues in Europe, while Banyana only have two players - Jermaine Seoposenwe (US) and Roxanne Barker (The Netherlands).

This game will test Banyana mentally and physically. That means interim coach Ellis will have to field a side that can handle the pressure and physical challenges, a major dilemma as she must decide who to start at centreback alongside captain Janine van Wyk.

Bambanani Mbane put in a good performance in the 0-0 draw against Zimbabwe but Rutendo Makore bullied her and Van Wyk with her brute force. Cameroon’s attack is more powerful.

“We know what’s at stake after we didn’t get the three points against Zimbabwe,” Ellis said.

“I didn’t want to put it so bluntly like she (Kgatlana) put it. But it is definitely going to be war. We have to turn the crowd on Cameroon. We will be looking to take things from how we ended against Zimbabwe. We have to raise the bar. We need to take the game to them and convert the chances that we create.

“It might not be pretty because it is such a big game. What’s more important for us are the three points ... we need to win at all costs.”

The Star

Original source: Banyana must stand tall or fall short

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