Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis has challenged her fresh-faced charges to write their own history as the senior women’s team chase a new record at the Cosafa Women’s Championship, which is under way in Port Elizabeth.
As the defending champions, South Africa attained a 100% record in the group stage to advance to the semifinals. Banyana are gunning for a record fourth title on the trot in the regional tournament.
They will face Malawi in the last four on Thursday, while Botswana will meet Zambia in the first semifinal earlier in the day.
Spearheading South Africa’s flawless qualification to the knockout stage has been teenage sensation Sibulele Holweni, who netted five goals in Banyana’s 7-0 demolition of the Comoros Islands on Monday.
The 18-year-old striker is the competition’s joint top-scorer with Tabitha Chawinga of Malawi. Both have scored six goals.
“Before we played Comoros, we knew we had qualified for the semifinals. But it was another opportunity for the players to raise their hands and I thought Sibulele Holweni did exceptionally well in scoring five fantastic goals,” said Ellis.
“We have played all the players we have in our group to be able to see what they can do at this level. We have a new group here and I have challenged them to make new memories, and this is the opportunity for them now to make their mark.”
Banyana’s defence is yet to be breached and the team has also been clinical upfront. South Africa opened their Cosafa campaign with a 2-0 win over Angola last week and followed up with a 5-0 hammering of Eswatini on Friday.
Ellis fancies the team’s chances against a Malawi side that registered the biggest win of the competition with a 9-0 bashing of Lesotho in their pool fixture at the weekend.
“We are now into the semifinals and our opponents, Malawi, have had fantastic games in group matches. They have raised the level of their team. Obviously, we’ll analyse them [and] put plans in place, and it’s up to the players to execute those plans,” the coach pointed out.
“It’s a knockout game – there’s no second chance and we’ve got to make sure we execute the plan. If we don’t concede, we always have the opportunity to win the game because we’ll always create the opportunities.
“We might get one or two chances in this game and we have to be nearly clinical in front of goal. Semifinals is a different ball game. It becomes tougher and we have to stay focused for the duration of the game. It’s also about how badly the players want it.”