Banyana Banyana head coach Vera Pauw says it is unfortunate that Egypt had withdrawn from the All Africa Games which will take place in Brazzaville, Congo from 3-18 September. While the reasons for the withdrawal of the North Africans are not known, Pauw says the show will have to go on. South Africa’s coach says: ‘It is very unfortunate that they had to withdraw from the competition but that is beyond our control. However, from our standpoint, nothing changes. We would have loved to play against them because, as I have been saying, this is ideal preparation for our 2016 Rio Olympic qualifiers against Equatorial Guinea next month. The withdrawal means we will now play one match less meaning there is no room for error as there are only two matches to play instead of the initial three. The withdrawal also denies us a chance to face them for the first time. The only positive here is that should we move into the semi-finals, we will have more rest, which means fresh legs for that part of the tournament.’
The Sasol-sponsored side had been drawn in Group B alongside Cameroon, Ghana and Egypt. If a team withdraws after having qualified for the final tournament, but before the actual start of the final tournament, the Organising Committee may replace it by the last team it has eliminated, if the circumstances are favourable but the two teams eliminated by Egypt in the qualifiers, Senegal (Women) and Burundi (Men) also decided against replacing Egypt due to the short notice. In default, the group to which the forfeiting team belonged shall be composed of three teams only.
Group A remains with four teams – hosts Congo alongside Nigeria, Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire. Banyana Banyana will face Cameroon in their opening match on Monday, 7 September at the Stade de l’unite 3. Kickoff is at 17:00 local time in Brazzaville (18:00 SA Time). Pauw’s charges will then lock horns with Ghana in their second and last group stages encounter on Thursday, 10 September. The clash will take place at the same venue of the first match and will kick-off at the same time.
The semi-finals take place five days later (Tuesday, 15 September) with the finals set for Sunday, 18 September. Banyana Banyana depart for Brazzaville on Wednesday, 2 September as part of Team South Africa under SASCOC.