Bafana Bafana

Banyana back to earth with tough SWC draw

2018-12-12 14:19
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 02: Janine van Wyk, Desiree Ellis and Emma Hendricks during the Banyana Banyana Arrival Press Conference at OR Tambo International Airport on December 02, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Like a high-flying balloon encountering unforeseen hazards, Banyana Banyana have been brought back to earth, with the euphoria surrounding qualification for next year's women's World Cup replaced by the uneasy implications of an excruciatingly hazardous opening round draw for the event in France.

READ: Desiree Ellis chats to Sport24

True it may be what astute and commendable Banyana coach Desiree Ellis evaluated that "you can't expect an easy draw when you are involved in an event that includes the best teams in the world."

But, at the same time, Lady Luck could hardly have dealt the South African team making their first appearance among the 24-team World Cup qualifiers a more difficult hand in deciding the composition of the six groups of four that make up the launch of the event following the strictly potted, seeded draw.

The 48th world-ranked Banyana have been pitted in a group that includes Germany, ranked second in the world, Spain, in 12th place, and China in close ascendancy in 15th position - with only two or possibly at best three countries from each of the six first-round groups going through to the last 16 knock-out stage.

What is more, South Africa's record at the highest echelon of women's soccer is no encouraging factor either, for while Banyana have not qualified for the World Cup before, appearances at the almost equally important Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016 failed to produce a single victory or result in second round progress from six matches - four of which were lost and two drawn and a lop-sided goal tally produced of one scored and 10 conceded.

A degree of encouragement for Banyana is the improved overall professionalism displayed in the recent CAF Nations Cup tournament, with Ellis's contribution in the coaching department a major factor.

And with warm-up games before the World Cup arranged against such redoubtable opponents as world number one ranked USA and ninth-ranked Sweden, Banyana will open their campaign against Spain knowing what to expect.

Read more on:    banyana banyana  |  sy lerman  |  soccer


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