Banyana fired up for African Champs
25 October 2012
South Africa's women's football team, Banyana Banyana, have wrapped up their training camp in Cameroon and jet off to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on Thursday to put the finishing touches to their preparations for the eight-nation 2012 African Women's Championship.
The African women's football showpiece event starts on 28 October, with Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana in Group A action against hosts Equatorial Guinea.
Before they departed for Equatorial Guinea, Banyana Banyana received words of motivation from the South African High Commissioner to Cameroon, Ntshadi M Tsheole, who paid a surprise visit to the team’s training session on Wednesday.
'Best of luck'
"As a Commission, we are so excited to have Banyana Banyana training here in Cameroon and wish them the best of luck for the tournament in Equatorial Guinea," said Tsheole.
"We are politicians, but Banyana Banyana are ambassadors for South Africa in their own right. Everywhere they go, so do the media, and these young football players are a real credit to our country."
Meanwhile, coach Joseph Mkhonza looked also a little more relaxed than he had been earlier in the week as the team's technical staff joined the players in a small size field practice match.
"The spirit in the camp is high, particularly after the effort put in during the one-all draw against Cameroon in an international friendly match played in Yaoundé on Monday," he said.
"Having a national training camp in the humid conditions here in Cameroon was crucial to our build up to the Caf African Women's Championship 2012, as we are likely to find similar conditions in Equatorial Guinea. Safa and Sasol, our team sponsor, need to be commended for allowing our team the opportunity to prepare here in Cameroon."
The coaching staff said it was impressed with the way in which Durban Ladies striker Silindile Ngubane and club-mate and defender Charlotte Mshengu have fitted into the Banyana Banyana set up.
"I called Ngubane to the camp after having seen her score 11 goals for Durban Ladies at the Sasol League National Championships held in Durban in July, and she has already netted for Banyana Banyana in the one-all draw with Zimbabwe in Daveyton last week," said Mkhonza.
"Mshengu is a valuable player as she can play in any of the defensive positions and this could be of major value in a long tournament such as the Caf African Women's Championship. The national coaches also spotted her potential when she played for Durban Ladies during the Sasol League National Championships held in Durban."
Mshengu made her Banyana Banyana debut as a second half substitute for her Durban Ladies club-mate Zamandosi Cele in the international friendly against Cameroon on Monday.
Apart from University of Johannesburg midfielder Yola Jafta (hamstring strain), all of the players are fit and ready for action, with Cape Town Roses midfielder Nocawe Skiti having returned to training after a trip to the dentist in Yaoundé on Tuesday to have a tooth extracted.
Following the Group A match against Equatorial Guinea, Banyana Banyana will face Senegal in Malabo on 31 October, and will travel to Bata for their encounter with DR Congo on 3 November.
The semi-finals will take place in either Malabo or Bata on 7 November , with the third- and fourth-place playoff and the title decider both set to take place in Malabo on 11 November.
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