It’s all or nothing for Banyana

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The technical team and the players had to console a heart-broken Andile Dlamini in the changeroom after she'd put up a brave performance in goal only to be bundled off the ball by Gaelle Enganamouit. Togolese referee Aissata Ameyo Amegee, right at the scene, allowed play to continue and Genevieve Ngo pounced on the loose ball to score the goal that took Cameroon to the semi-finals of the Africa Women's Cup of Nations (AWC).

That goal took Banyana back in time, two years back to the last AWC in Namibia. They lost to Cameroon and drew with Ghana in their first two matches. They needed to win by a big margin against an Arab country, Algeria, in their last match to reach the last four. They did that, joining Cameroon in the semi-finals.

“I am really disappointed when it comes to the refereeing,” an emotional Dlamini said. “First half, the same thing happened (with the same player who pushed Dlamini into her own net after she collected the ball). She judges it to be a foul but doesn’t give a yellow card. The same foul happens and she says nothing.

“In the second half, two people clutter into me. No protection. I am a goalkeeper, I need to be protected. Her not giving that foul really demoralised me. It’s heart-breaking that an individual can make a decision that can hurt so many people. It’s really disappointing.”

But Banyana don’t only have the referee to blame for this defeat. They should also look closely at their shortcomings and address them before taking on Egypt in Limbe in a must-win match on Friday.

The South African side hardly troubled Cameroon’s goalkeeper. In the second half they allowed the hosts to push them back and they ended up defending too deep. That type of defending meant that their concentration levels needed to be on a high because a momentary lapse could lead to a goal. Despite the goal having a whiff of a foul about it, Dlamini’s defence was too slow to react to the loose ball. The biggest let down for the side though was, and is, their attack that lacks bite.

“It is a worry that we haven’t scored a goal in two matches in this tournament,” interim coach Desiree Ellis said.

“”The good thing is that we are creating chances. We will create opportunities against Egypt because it’s a must win match for us. If we don’t win, we go home. We will throw the kitchen sink at Egypt.”

Ellis has to not only be a coach but also a psychologist in preparing Banyana for Egypt. She must quickly stop the pity party that Banyana are on and channel that energy to fuel them in the last match. The Egyptians’ 1-0 win over Zimbabwe is a good thing for Banyana. They don’t have to take out calculators even though all three teams - Banyana, Egypt and Zimbabwe - can mathematically join Cameroon in the semi-finals.

The hosts aren’t likely to lose to Zimbabwe. The Indomitable Lionesses want to top the group so as to stay in Yaounde for the knockout stages and avoid nine-time African champions Nigeria in the semi-finals but they must win to keep high the celebratory spirit that has engulfed Cameroon in recent days.

With one point right now, a win over Egypt and Cameroon not losing to Zimbabwe will be enough to take Banyana to the knockout stages.

“We are an angry bunch but we must channel that anger to the right areas,” Ellis said.

“We know what’s at stake. We need to beat Egypt and score as many goals as we can.”

The Star

Original source: It’s all or nothing for Banyana

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