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Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis was not happy with her charges after their 1-1 draw with Zambia on Saturday night.

The draw secured top spot in their group and progression to an AWCON semi-final against Mali.

Banyana have targeted a spot in the final and a place at the 2019 Women’s World Cup as the benchmark for a successful tournament. After a strong start Banyana were sloppy in conceding an equalizer to Zambia at the Accra Sports Ground in Ghana.

“It’s not the first time after scoring that we gave away immediate opportunities after that. Thembi also could have sealed it once again‚” Ellis said after the match.

“But it’s good that it happened now. We are still in the competition. It’s a wake-up call.

“It cannot happen again. We have to be on top of our game. And that is one of the things that you will learn in this tournament.

“You cannot settle down for one minute. You’ve got to be on top of your game all the time because there are no easy team around.

Kgatlana Thembi [11] celebrating with her colleagues
Kgatlana Thembi [11] celebrating with her colleagues
“And if you’re not on top of your game for the full 90 minutes you could be out of the competition.

“Zambia gave us a tough time. I felt we gave as good as we got. We are happy with the performance‚ not the result.”

Ellis said that as a group Banyana are never satisfied with a performance but she is secure in the knowledge that if her team can get past Mali they will have accomplished their mission for AWCON 2018.

“It’s one game to go to qualify for the World Cup. You win the semifinal and you’re in the World Cup.

“And that’s been our motivation and our ultimate goal.

“We obviously go back after the performance. It doesn’t matter if you win 10-0‚ 2-0 or 3-0 – you cannot be happy with a performance.

“Because you are always striving for a perfect performance. And today was no perfect performance.

“But we have shown that we can also grind it out. And I think that’s important – grinding out results.

“But the motivation is: one game to go. You win that one‚ you qualify for the World Cup.

“We will go back and regroup because it’s a big match. It’s our final‚ that semifinal.”

The losing semi-finalists will have another shot at World Cup qualification in the third place playoff. South Africa face Mali at 20:30 on Tuesday 27 November.

Source: James Richardson

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