By Joseph Edegbo:
South African Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthetwa has congratulated senior national women’s football side, Banyana Banyana, on their victory in the first ever Aisha Buhari football cup.
Six of Africa’s top ranked teams, including women’s football powerhouses Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria, competed in the tournament held in Nigeria.
Following a week of football action comprising at least four matches, Banyana eventually ran out as cup winners after beating Africa’s top ranked team, Nigeria, 4 – 2 in the final.
“Banyana Banyana’s dominance is indeed something that deserves all our praise. The ladies’ national team, under the guidance of Coach Desiree Ellis, has done us proud. This demonstrates that it doesn’t matter where the game is played. If you are well prepared, nothing will deter you from achieving your objective,” Mthethwa said.
Speaking to the SA Football Association’s media team, Ellis called the victory over Nigeria a win for South African women’s football.
“The victory is not just for us here in Nigeria but it is for everyone back home who is involved and has contributed to women’s football – from Sasol to Hollywood Super League.”
Ellis said the players showed composure and control in what is considered one of the biggest match ups in African women’s football.
“Looking back at the game, we were in control most of the time. We played at the tempo that we wanted. We controlled a lot of aspects of the game, though we gave a lot of free kicks away which was dangerous but we handled it very well.
“I think the players showed a lot of confidence and character to take control back. We took control and we managed the game very well.”
The Sport Minister said the upcoming women’s COSAFA Cup – a Southern African regional tournament – would present a good opportunity for the country to show its support for the women’s senior national football team.
“We are looking forward to their upcoming COSAFA challenge and our wish is for the nation to do the right thing, and go and vaccinate in large numbers so that, at least, we can have a significant portion of fans behind Banyana Banyana. Our national team deserves all the support they can get,” he said.
The COSAFA Cup is expected to kick off on September 28 in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape.