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Banyana’s Esau puts her goals down to great team work

Esau

Striker Chantelle Esau says she owes her good showing for the Banyana Banyana national senior women’s side in the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship to team work.

She’s now scored three goals in three matches for the Sasol-sponsored side at the tournament currently under way in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

In the first two games (against Lesotho and Namibia), she was in the starting XI, but against Botswana she came off the bench to find an equaliser for South Africa.

‘I’m quite happy scoring those three goals, and it’s all due to teamwork. We have shown that if we continue as a unit we can actually go as far as winning this tournament,’ said Esau.

South Africa have scored seven goals in this regional event, and Esau is on par with fellow striker Thembi Kgatlana – who has now scored six times in total for her country – while Leandra Smeda chipped in with the the seventh of the tournament.

‘We have a good combination going on upfront, we work well as a team, and we continue to work hard so we can do well for the team,’ said Esau.

Capped 25 times for Banyana Banyana, Esau has had some ups and downs on her journey in the national team.

In 2016 she went to Brazil for the Rio Olympics, but only as an alternate player – meaning she missed out on playing in the tournament unless a player from the official squad was injured and if the coach chose her among the four alternate players.

She was then on the sidelines for a long time due to injury, but has since come back with a bang and is scoring goals for her current club, Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies, hence her recall to the national team.

‘It’s all about faith, it’s about what you want as a player. When I went through all those challenges I told myself that I’m not giving up and I need to prove to the coaches that I want to be part of the national team. That attitude helped because I am slowly getting back to my usual self as a player. The goals I am scoring in the national team have really helped boost my confidence,’ added Esau.

Banyana Banyana face Zambia in the semi-final of the 2017 Women’s Championship on Thursday, with kick-off at the Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo set for 13:00pm.

‘We all know it’s going to be tough, we will have to work harder than we have in the past three matches because they will hurt us if we are not prepared. We saw they gave the home side, one of the favourites to win the tournament, a run for their money, so we don’t expect anything less,’ said Esau.

‘But then again, to be the best you need to beat the best. The good thing about our team is that we’ve scored in every match so far and that gives us confidence to face Zambia, I believe we will come out tops and head to the final.’

South Africa have won this tournament three times – 2002, 2006, 2008, and finished second in 2011 – while Zambia are yet to lift the title in this event, despite being present since the inaugural competition. They won bronze in 2002 and 2006.

In the other semi-final, Kenya take on Zimbabwe, also at Barbourfields at 16:00pm.


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