Banyana will not undermine Ethiopia

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pretoria - Banyana Banyana will not be resting on their 3-0 Olympic Games qualifier first leg advantage when they take on Ethiopia in the return match at the Addis Ababa National Stadium. 

The match will be played on Sunday and kick-off is at 3pm local time in Ethiopia and 4pm South African time.

At the end of the match, Banyana Banyana will know if they have succeeded in qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The other African spot at the Olympics will be decided between Nigeria and Cameroon. The Nigerians lead 2-1 going into the second leg match.

"Since Banyana Banyana's introduction to international football in 1993, this is the national team's best chance of qualifying for a major international tournament, and competing in the Olympic Games is the ultimate dream for any athlete across all sports codes. 

"Women's football in South Africa has grown in depth and quality, thanks largely to the committed contributions of our team sponsor Sasol, and the efforts of the South African Football Association," said Banyana national coach Joseph Mkhonza.

The absence of USA-based Kylie-Ann Louw from the second leg encounter will not be a major blow to the visitors, as Banyana Banyana have trained for the past week and a half without the experienced midfielder.

"It would have been great to have Louw in the travelling party but she won't be able to join us on time, so Cape Town Roses striker Leandra Smeda, who can also play in a midfield role, will take her place. I believe we have assembled a very strong team that will deliver the required results," added Mkhonza.

The head coach has also released defender Lebogang Mabatle to train with the national under-20 women's squad that is currently in camp.

Russian-based midfielder Nompumelelo Nyandeni, who has 90 national caps, has joined her compatriots in camp.

Mkhonza and his technical team have been working around the clock to stop the Ethiopians, who at times looked dangerous in the first leg.

"We have studied the video of the first leg clash played at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto about two weeks ago, and we have identified their strong points. Our training has been focusing mainly on how to combat their game plan," he said.

The experienced Banyana mentor also welcomes back defender Janine van Wyk into the squad. She missed the first leg due to suspension after collecting two yellow cards in earlier rounds of the Olympic qualifiers.

"It's good to be back in the Banyana Banyana squad, as it was not a nice feeling watching the first leg from the stands. 

"The wonderful thing is that they won the match. Now on Sunday, we need to continue from where we left off and ensure that we rewrite the history books by being the first South African women's team to qualify for the Olympic Games. 

"The last match is in the past, and we must forget about it and start afresh so we don't become complacent," said Van Wyk, who could earn her 70th cap for Banyana should she play on Sunday.

The squad departs for Ethiopia on Friday at 2pm. - BuaNews

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