South Africa women’s head coach Desiree Ellis is confident of her side’s success against Algeria when both sides meet on Friday in the first leg, the last qualifying round for the TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2022.
Banyana Banyana are aiming to celebrate a first ever African title on their 12th appearance in Morocco but must avoid an upset against the Fennecs, who are seeking the sixth outing in the first ever WAFCON on North African soil this year.
Following a fifth WAFCON final and maiden Women’s World Cup outing in France 2019, the two-time CAF Coach of the Year admitted her side is fully aware of the task facing Algeria.
“The mood is really upbeat and as the overseas-based players arrived it was even more upbeat as we had not seen some of them for a while now. Training has gone really well so far and preparations are on track,” Ellis told CAFOnline.com.
“There is no room for error and we all know what is at stake. It’s not just for a place at the 2022 WAFCON tournament but also another opportunity to qualify for the Women’s World Cup.
“This is huge for women’s football in South Africa and it is in our hands to take a huge leap on the continent and on the world stage.
“Before we can even think of that, we have to focus on the home leg. We have to really make sure that we get a positive result at home to take off the pressure when we go away.”
The doubleheader will be the third and fourth as South Africa hold a perfect record over Algeria in two last WAFCON meetings, securing 4-0 and 5-1 wins in 2006 and 2014 respectively.
Radia Fertoul will be counting on her foreign-based stars, especially Fleury’s Chebel Imane, while Ellis will hang her hopes on overseas-based legs, including Thembi Kgatlana to qualify.
Banyana suffered a 3-0 humiliation at the hand of Zambia in an international friendly last Sunday, but the tactician is upbeat the arrival of her international stars will boost their ranks.
“We needed the home-based players to be tested and we knew the game against Zambia would be competitive and that’s exactly what happened,” the former South Africa international continued.
“Even though we could have done better in certain moments. We have been in a similar position before and that experience will be invaluable. We know what we have to do and will try to use all the experience we have of these situations,”
“They know how important the game is as many of them have been given chances like this but we have to bring our A-game.”
The five-time African vice-champions recorded a 14-0 aggregate win over Mozambique and the 58-year-old coach is taking some vital lessons into the duel with the North Africans.
“We made sure that we started well in the first leg away from home and that took the pressure off us in the second leg at home,” she recounted.
“This is not going to be an easy game as we saw from the 2021 AFCON held recently in Cameroon, that you have to be at your best all the time. They had an extremely good result against Sudan so we will not underestimate them in any way.”
South Africa will welcome the Algerians to Johannesburg for the first leg encounter at Orlando Stadium on February 18 before heading out for the second leg at Stade Omar Hamadi, Algiers five days later.
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