It is a very interesting draw for us – Banyana Banyana captain

Captain of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Janine van Wyk, says they received a very interesting draw in the upcoming 2018 Total Africa Women Cup of Nations tournament.

The competition runs from 17 November to 1 December in Ghana.

South Africa is in Group B alongside Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya, while the hosts are in Group A with Cameroon, Algeria and Mali.

It is a very interesting draw for us, if we were in either group it would be considered as a tough group. Women's football in Africa is developing enormously, there are no more easy teams that we will be facing now. I think it is a tough group we are in, and we are looking forward to competing in the tournament, said Van Wyk.

While many talk about Nigeria in Group B, the Banyana Banyana defender believes all the teams are a threat. South Africa's first match in the AFCON will be against defending champions Nigeria, on Sunday, 18 November.

These are all great opponents we have played and faced before, they never give us an easy run so we need to prepare well for every team because they are all different, added Van Wyk from the Banyana Banyana training session.

First game is really crucial for us, it is a game between rivals, but I think in the past we have been slow starters in tournaments and we need to change that, and go with the perspective of attacking from the onset. We just need to go out there and not show any fear, most of us here in the squad are highly experienced and we have played them numerous times, we must just go for it.

The second fixture sees South Africa face Kenya on Wednesday, 21 November. The first two matches will be played in the coastal city of Cape Coast.

For the final group stages encounter, Banyana Banyana will travel to the capital Accra to take on Zambia on Saturday, 24 November.

The tournament itself kicks off on Saturday, 17 November with the hosts playing against Algeria at the Accra Sports Stadium.

The top two sides in the groups will progress to the semi-finals.

This year's competition, to be held in the West African country for the first time, also serves as the African qualifiers to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. The top three teams will qualify for the World Cup to be held in France in June next year.

Following a two-week break after the tour of Chile in South America, Banyana Banyana are back in camp to continue with the preparations for AFCON.

Head coach Desiree Ellis has selected a squad of 31 players, which will be trimmed down to 21 on Friday, 26 October.

It was a good ten-day break for us to refresh and recharge our batteries. I think everyone is doing well here at training and making it difficult for the coach to select her final squad � which is good competition for us, added Van Wyk.

From here on, we just to build on what we need in terms of challenges that we have been having against opponents, but I am pretty sure that when we get to the tournament we will be ready, fit and prepared to compete in Ghana.

Meanwhile, Ellis has called up Busisiwe Ndimeni TUT-PTA of for the injured Siyamthanda Skeyi of Thunderbirds.

This is the third change following the withdrawal of Finland-based striker Ode Fulutudilu and USA-based Amogelang Motau, who were both replaced bySduduzo Dlamini (Sunflower FC) and Gabriela Salgado (JVW FC) respectively.

Source: South African Football Association

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