Banyana Banyana midfielder Amanda Dlamini believes they cannot underestimate Botswana after the visitors gave them a scare in the first half of the first leg clash of their 2016 Cameroon Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCN) qualifier. The two nations met on Saturday, 9 April 2016 at the Lobatse Sports Complex in Botswana with the home side dictating terms in the first stanza only for the South Africans to reign supreme in the second half with two goals from Sanna Mollo. Now the Sasol-sponsored South Africans are just 90 minute from booking their tickets to Cameroon, but they will not take things for granted.
South Africa and Botswana lock horns in the second leg on Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at the Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa. Kick off is at 19:00. Dlamini says: ‘If we harbour any intentions of winning this match and going to Cameroon, we have to resort to our second half display in Lobatse because in the first half of that match, nothing worked for us. Botswana showed us that they can be a hard nut to crack, and with that in mind, it is important that we play as a unit and remain compact because if we try to play as individuals we will play into their hands.’
Banyana Banyana completed their preparations with a light training session at the match venue after a visit to Tembisa Plaza on Monday where they got a chance to mingle with their fans. There was an autograph signing session which was attended by many fans wanting to catch a glimpse of their favourite players – and also grab a chance to pose for a photo. But the players’ focus on the task at hand remains.
Dlamini says: ‘It is important that we always reach out to commuties and get to spend some time with our fans, no matter how little because these are the situations that humble us – we are stars today because they come to watch us play. So where possible we should always make some time for them, and we really enjoyed ourselves as it took out minds off a little bit from the match. Seeing them smile also makes our day. Having said that, our focus is on the match. We are so close to qualifying for this tournament but we have to be on toes and not take the 2-0 lead for granted. We still have to work hard to protect this result as it is very important to qualify for the AWCN. Remember after the Olympic Games life must still on, Banyana Banyana programmes must still continue. Playing in these tournaments helps a lot in the development of women’s football in this country.’ The former Banyana Banyana captain says that should they make it to Cameroon, they need not go there and make up the numbers: ‘It would be a great achievement to qualify for two major tournaments in one year – the Olympic Games and the AWCN – and we want to do well in Cameroon because the last time we went to the tournament we finished fourth in Namibia, so we need to improve on that. And we believe with the experience we will get in Brazil, we might just go all the way. But first we must defeat Botswana tonight and take it from there.’
South Africa has never missed out on the Africa Women Cup of Nations since their first participation in 1995.