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Barker says Banyana must revel on the big stage and book their place in Rio
- Updated: October 14, 2015
It’s Banyana Banyana’s do or die date this weekend as they face Equatorial Guinea in a match that decides which national women’s football side qualifies for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The two sides played to a goalless draw in the first leg held at the Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa earlier this month and now they face a tough away trip to the Estadio de Bata for Sunday’s match (5pm SA time).
Iceland-based goalkeeper Roxanne Barker has been ever present in the team, although she was a late arrival for the team at last month’s African Games in Congo, and was also part of the squad that qualified for the 2012 London Olympics.
‘This is probably the most important 90 minutes of our lives – if you think about what being part of the Olympics is about, putting your country on the map. The more we are on these big stages the more women’s football will grow, the more young girls will play the game and perhaps the more money will come in and help with development of women’s football in South Africa,’ said Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Roxanne Barker.
‘It is very important to qualify – we want to win so badly for women’s football in South Africa and also do it for our coach because she has made such a huge difference since she got here. We have improved in all aspects thanks to her.’
Barker played a crucial game in the first leg but believes they need to step it up more. ‘This is a very big match for us, we have to come out and fight so we can win the game. In the first leg we denied them any scoring chances because the defence was solid in front of me so we have to strive for another clean sheet and get some goals in the process to have any chance of going to Rio,’ added Barker.
‘I trust our attack and have a lot of confidence that we will get it right in this match. Seeing them at practice I can tell we have a good team and we can do it.’
And believe it or not but Barker is more than happy to face the Equatorial Guinea girls on their own turf.
‘I prefer playing away because at home there is more pressure with your home crowd. When you are away, the feeling of silencing the home crowd when you score is out of this world.’