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Ellis and Banyana look to turn things around against Nigeria

Banyana Banyana interim head coach Desiree Ellis and her team look to change their fortunes when they face Nigeria in the semi-final of the 2016 CAF African Women’s Cup of Nations on Tuesday evening.

The match takes place at State Limbe Omnisport in Limbe, Cameroon with kick-off at 20:00 South African time.

The Nigerians have dominated this competition over the years, winning a record nine times.

The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana have only come close on four occasions where they finished as runners-up in 1995, 2000, 2008 and 2012.

Along the way, South Africa has met Nigeria nine times, and lost eight times – including twice in the final. One has to go back four years till Banyana Banyana defeated the West Africans – in the semi-finals in Equatorial Guinea.

But Ellis says things have to change. ‘Playing against Nigeria brings back many memories and emotions, and this encounter will be no different. I look back to the day when I started playing international football, and now I’m honoured to lead Banyana Banyana into this much-anticipated clash.

‘We have worthy opponents, the defending champions who have a better history than us in both this tournament and in our meetings – we have to respect that, no two ways about it. But when we get on to the pitch it’s 11 versus 11 and if we get the tactics right, we could just come out victorious,’ said Ellis.

The former Banyana Banyana captain says this is the kind of match where players don’t need to be motivated. ‘Everybody is excited, everybody is raring to go. A lot of the players know this is an opportunity to make history by getting to the final and winning it – but first we have to go past our nemesis. We don’t just want to do it for this group that is in Cameroon, but for everyone back home who has been very supportive since the start of the tournament,’ added Ellis.

‘The lovely thing is that every player is raising their hands in terms of selection for this match because this a kind of encounter where players don’t need motivation – any clash against Nigeria is like a cup final, so in a way it makes our lives easier on the bench because the players want this as much as we do, so they will go out there and fight,’ said Ellis.

Striker Jermaine Seoposenwe will miss the match as she is serving a suspension after collecting two yellow cards.

In the earlier kick-off (17:00), hosts Cameroon will be up against Ghana at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde.

The final will be played on Saturday in Yaounde.

Picture of Banyana in training, courtesy of Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

HEAD TO HEAD
BANYANA BANYANA vs NIGERIA

1995 (final played over two legs – home and away)
Nigeria 4 SA 1
SA 1 Nigeria 7
Nigeria won 11-2 on aggregate

South Africa (hosts) 2000 (final)
SA 0 Nigeria 2
The match was abandoned after 75 minutes and Nigeria declared champions due to fans rioting at Vosloorus Stadium.

Nigeria – 2002 (semi-finals)
Nigeria 5 SA 0

Nigeria – 2006 (group stage)
Nigeria 2 SA 0

Equatorial Guinea – 2008 (group stage)
SA 0 Nigeria 1

South Africa – 2010 (group stage)
SA 1 Nigeria 2

Equatorial Guinea – 2012 (semi-finals)
SA 1 Nigeria 1

Namibia – 2014 (semi-finals)
Nigeria 2 SA 1


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