'No fear' Banyana ready for Nigeria

6 November 2012

Banyana Banyana will adopt a "no fear" approach when they face Africa's top ranked women's football team, Nigeria, in the semi-finals of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) African Women's Championship at Nkoantoma Stadium in Bata, Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday.

Banyana Banyana have played two friendlies against the Nigerians this year. The first match ended 1-1 in Rustenburg, while the second was a goalless draw in Lagos.

South Africa's coach Joseph Mkhonza commented in a statement: "The stage is set for an epic battle between the two sides and the power of African women's football is clear, with all four of the top ranked teams on the continent in Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and SA having made the semi-finals.

'Heroines'

"Safa (the South African Football Association) and our team sponsor Sasol need to be thanked for the continued support given to the national team, which has turned our players into heroines in the eyes of sports fans across our country," Mkhonza said.

Experienced Banyana Banyana midfielder Portia Modise, who scored for South Africa in the international friendly played in Rustenburg on 3 June, said the Nigerians had fielded full strength teams during the international friendly matches, and Banyana Banyana could break the mental block to record their first-ever win over the Super Falcons.

"The Banyana Banyana players are so keen to get the win over Nigeria and give South African football fans lots to be proud of as the win will allow our team to make the final, which is one step further than what we achieved at the Caf African Women's Championship 2010 held in Ekurhuleni, near Johannesburg," Modise said.

Bronze medallists in 2010

Banyana Banyana finished as the bronze medallists at the African showpiece event two years ago, going down to Equatorial Guinea in the semi-finals before beating Cameroon in the playoff match for third place.

At this year's tournament, the South Africans finished second on the Group A log after recording wins over Senegal (1-0) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (4-1) and a loss (1-0) to the hosts, Equatorial Guinea, in the opening fixture.

With Equatorial Guinea having topped the Group A log, they will take on Cameroon in the second semi-final, to be played in Malabo on Wednesday.

Coach of the Year

Banyana Banyana received a further boost when coach Joseph Mkhonza was named Coach of the Year at the South African Sports Awards on Sunday evening. He said the award is the result of hard work, coaching passion and the support from his colleagues.

Mkhonza said: "I am honoured to be named as the SA Sports Awards Coach of the Year and see it as much of a privilege as it is a privilege to coach Banyana Banyana."

The coach, who wore the colours of top South African clubs, such as Kaizer Chiefs and African Wanderers, in his playing days in the 1970s, added: "Coaching is a calling in life and needs to be backed by passion for the task at hand.

"I am delighted to be recognized for my efforts and need thank Safa, Banyana Banyana team sponsor Sasol, the Banyana Banyana players, and my technical staff colleagues for their contributions made which play a role in helping me win an award of this nature."

Striker Portia Modise was a finalist in the SA Sports Woman of the Year category, won by Olympic 800 metres athlete Caster Semenya, while the Olympic rowing team won the Team of the Year honours in a category in which Banyana Banyana were nominated as finalists.

SAinfo reporter

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