• Monday, May 27, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

2024 Olympics: Banyana look to home advantage against Super Falcons

Banyana Banyana

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis and striker Thembi Kgatlana are banking on the support of the home fans to overturn their 1-0 deficit to the Super Falcons in the first leg of the 2024 Olympics qualifying match against Nigeria.

The crucial home leg will take place in Pretoria on Tuesday at Loftus Versfeld Stadium at 7:30 pm.

Reflecting on their performance in Abuja, Kgatlana acknowledged the slow start in the first half but remained positive about their improvement in the second half. She emphasized the advantage of playing at home, where they are familiar with the facilities and can capitalize on the support of their fans.

“In the first half [in Abuja], we started a bit slow and coming into the second half we were better. That’s the positive we need to take at home with familiar facilities,” Kgatlana said.

“The good thing is this is not a tournament. We know after the game in Pretoria, whoever wins will go through, but they have the advantage after the first leg. There is no away-goal rule.

“I also think that gives us more confidence because we are not chasing the game. We have to win with a better score. We also have an advantage at home with better facilities.”

Kgatlana highlighted the absence of an away-goal rule, which means that Banyana can approach the match with confidence, focusing on securing a win without the pressure of chasing the game. Ellis echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of both scoring goals and maintaining defensive solidity to prevent conceding.

Ellis emphasised on the need to analyse footage to rectify any shortcomings and improve their performance. She emphasized the significance of scoring first to level the playing field and exert pressure on their opponents.

“We have to look at the footage to see how we can rectify things and how we can be better. We need to score, but we need to be aware to not concede and make sure we score first to get the game back on at even,” Ellis said.

“They don’t have to come [attack], they can sit back, but the onus is on us. We are going back to familiar surroundings and we hope to take the game to them.”

Despite the challenge ahead, Ellis expressed confidence in her team’s ability to rise to the occasion, especially with the support of their home crowd. Banyana’s task is clear – they need either a 1-0 victory to force the match into a penalty shootout or a two-goal margin victory to secure qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics. With determination and home advantage on their side, Banyana remains poised for the challenge.