Triumphant Banyana Banyana have returned home to South Africa after booking a place in the final round of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games qualifiers with a 1-0 victory over the Harambe Starlets of Kenya on Sunday, 2 August 2015.
Substitute Rhoda Mulaudzi scored for Vera Pauw’s charges in Machakos, Kenya in the 24th minute to help them advance with a 2-0 aggregate victory. They are now two legs away from appearing in their second consecutive Olympic tournament with only Equatorial Guinea standing in their way.
Equatorial Guinea beat Nigeria 2-1 in extra time in Bata, also on Sunday, knocking the African Champions out with a 3-2 aggregate win to set up the clash with South Africa and coach Pauw is already anticipating a tough tie.
“We have always been thinking that Nigeria would be our final opponents but at the back of our minds we also knew there was a chance we could play Equatorial Guinea,” the Dutch told SAFA.net.
“The latter have a lot of Brazilian players with just one or two from Equatorial Guinea and we expect to get the footage of Guinea vs Nigeria match so we can see their quality. But the truth is Equatorial Guinea will not be weaker than Nigeria.
“The fact that they won against Nigeria means it will be a tough encounter, but we will go for it. We have the African Games to help us prepare for that qualifier by keeping us sharp.
Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk revealed that after they had beaten Kenya, they shifted their attention to the match between the only two nations that have won the Africa Women Championship, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria, knowing that either of them would be their next opponent.
“Yes, we were following that match because they played after our game against Kenya. We knew that either team that was going to win – Nigeria or Equatorial Guinea – will be a tough one because they are top dogs of African football, and we know all about them.
“We have played them both, Equatorial Guinea I think we beat once and they come out to give their best. They are a powerful team and we know what to expect from them so we have to prepare ourselves in a way that we can capitalize on their weaknesses and get a good result and that comes with good preparation. I know that with the kind of experienced coach that we have we will be ready to face them,” van Wyk stated on SAFA.net.
Banyana Banyana will host the first leg of the final round on the weekend of 2, 3, 4 October 2015 with the return leg scheduled for the weekend of 16, 17, 18 October in Equatorial Guinea.
The winner will qualify for the Olympic Games, which will take, place from 5 – 21 August 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.