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Banyana’s stepping stone

Cosafa Championship success is high on the list of Banyana Banyana’s priorities, as they look to use the event as a stepping stone towards their Olympic qualifier matches against Ethiopia in August and September.

Amanda Dlamini’s team will travel to Harare, Zimbabwe on Thursday, ahead of the southern African women’s football showpiece event, which will take place from 2-9 July, with many of the Banyana Banyana players in fine form, having represented their clubs at the Sasol League National Championships held in Mangaung, Bloemfontein last week.

At the Cosafa Championships, Banyana Banyana have been drawn in Group B with Zambia, Tanzania and Botswana, with their first outing set for the opening day of the tournament against Zambia. Group A consists of hosts Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique and Malawi.

ÔÇ£We played and beat Zambia and Botswana in the Olympic qualifiers earlier this year, and are confident of our chances of doing well in this tournament, which will be an important build up process for us as far as facing Ethiopia in Olympic qualifier action is concerned,ÔÇØ said Banyana Banyana caretaker coach Joseph ‘Sketch’ Mkhonza.

Since taking charge of Banyana Banyana shortly before last Christmas, the national senior women’s team have won seven of their eight matches. The girls in green need to see off the challenge of Ethiopia to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

Experienced defender Janine van Wyk and midfielder Mamello Makhabane were part of the Palace Super Falcons team that successful defended the No 1 trophy in women’s club football at the Sasol League National Championships at the weekend, and will be hoping to carry their good form into the Cosafa event.

After the opening fixture against the Zambians, Banyana Banyana will face Botswana on 3 July at the Gwanzura stadium. Botswana dented the South African’s 100 percent winning streak by producing a 1-0 scoreline result in the first leg Olympic qualifier in Polokwane on April 30. Two goals from star striker Noko Matlou paved the way for a 4-0 scoreline in the return match played on an artificial pitch in Gaborone last month.

Banyana Banyana will play their final group match in the Cosafa Championships, against Tanzania at the Gwanzura Stadium on 5 July. The semi-finals of the tournament are scheduled for 7 July, with the title decider two days later.


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