Banyana Banyana need to improve on their performance if they are to make the final of the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship currently under way in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
That’s the word from Roxy Barker, the national women’s side shot-stopper, as the South Africans take on a strong Zambia side in Thursday’s semi-final.
It’s a Zambian side eager to win this tournament, having taken part in all four previous editions (2002, 2006, 2008, 2011).
Up to this point, the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana haven’t performed to the best of their abilities in the regional showpiece, despite winning two matches and drawing the other.
‘This one is a must-win for us,’ says Barker. ‘We just have to go all out and do the best we can. Having not lost in our first three matches gives us a bit of confidence, even though as a team we know we haven’t played as well as we should have.
‘That’s despite winning two matches and drawing one. The fact that we are in the semi-final while still not playing as good as we can, shows something about our team,’ said Barker.
The South Africans have conceded two goals so far in the tournament – the second a defensive error against Botswana in a match that ended in a 1-1 stalemate. Banyana Banyana have scored seven goals in the process.
‘Mistakes will be huge negatives in this game because there’s no second chance in this round – but then again you can’t go into a match thinking about errors, you have to go in full of confidence with all your focus on the match. Yes, mistakes are part of the game, but we’ll have to minimise them to realise our goal of reaching the final,’ added Barker.
In the other semi-final, Kenya will face Zimbabwe in what promises to be another tough encounter for both sides. With Zimbabwe playing in front of their home crowd, many see them as favourites – even though Kenya finished top of their group, while the hosts had to wait for 24 hours for the results of other matches to confirm their spot in the top four.
‘I would rather we meet Kenya because it seems the Zimbabweans have some vendetta against us.
‘They are both good teams, but I believe Kenya are the better side currently, and I would rather play them because when we play Zimbabwe they come out with everything at us, but when they play other teams they don’t come out as strong,’ said Barker.
In the 2011 final of this competition (also played in Zimbabwe), the home team defeated South Africa to lift the trophy – so a win for both will be a repeat of that final.