Banyana: The good, the bad and the ugly!

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In Namibia, Banyana thumped Algeria 5-1, with Portia Modise scoring her 100th goal to advance to the semis. This year, they walloped Egypt 5-0 to once again finish behind Cameroon and reach the last four.

This tournament has seen Banyana wear a number of different masks, showing the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

Bambanani Mbane is a gem. She is the type of centre-back - calm, smart and comfortable with the ball at her feet - that Banyana have been waiting for.

Noko Matlou was converted to that position while Janine van Wyk constantly boots the ball upfield. That put Banyana under pressure against Cameroon and forced them to defend deep because Van Wyk would hoof the ball forward, giving the hosts possession to attack them once more.

Mbane has been a revelation. She showed why she was picked for the Olympic squad despite having never played a match for Banyana .

She didn't play in Brazil but the environment there prepared her well to keep calm under difficult situations.

This tournament has been about players coming out of their shell to claim their places. Andile Dlamini, Silindile Ngubane and Andisiwe Mgcoyi have all done that.

The bad

Banyana are making it a habit of starting this tournament poorly, leaving it late to mount a serious challenge.

In their first two games, a draw with Zimbabwe and a loss to Cameroon, they could have gotten more than they did if they were more clinical up front.

The 5-0 drubbing handed to Egypt was an indication of how many chances they create and how they would look if they convert most of them.

Interim coach Desiree Ellis has dropped the conservative approach by playing a more attacking brand of football, which has been easy on the eye but amounts to nothing if chances created aren't converted.

Not all opponents will put up a meek response like Egypt, especially the team they face here in the semi-finals on Tuesday.

The ugly

The ugly side of Banyana in this tournament didn't come to the fore save that the SA Football Association didn’t give them an opportunity for adequate preparation for the showpiece.

However, it was a smart decision by Safa to take Banyana to Cameroon earlier this year to play two friendlies with the hosts in Limbe and Douala.

That was before Banyana had qualified for the tournament or even knew they would be drawn with the Indomitable Lionesses in the same group.

But playing a friendly with Zimbabwe, who are also in their group, just days before their match in the AWC, was suicidal. That friendly benefited the Mighty Warriors more than it did Banyana.

Before that, Banyana took on Egypt in Dobsonville.

Those games opened up the side to scrutiny by their opponents as Banyana experimented with the game plans, formations and players they used in this tournament.

The squad should have been given an opportunity to prepare better.

Sunday Independent

Original source: Banyana: The good, the bad and the ugly!

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