Following Banyana Banyana’s progress into the semi-final of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations [WAFCON], captain Refiloe Jane has given credit to the South African Football Association [SAFA] for giving the team enough time to acclimatise in the host nation Morocco.
The South African women’s national team arrived in the North African country two weeks before the start of the tournament, something Jane believes helped them adapt to the weather conditions. Banyana have won all four matches in the competition, securing a semi-final spot after defeating Tunisia 1-0 in a tightly contested encounter on Thursday night in the capital Rabat.
A first-half strike by South Africa’s Jermaine Seoposenwe was enough for Banyana to walk away victorious, setting up a Southern African semi against Zambia.
“For the overseas-based players, it was easy to acclimatise, but for our players who are playing locally, they had to get used to the climate. We did well by arriving two weeks before the tournament for the players to get accustomed to the environment in North African countries,” Jane told SAFJA.
Jane missed the final group stage match against Botswana, returning for the crucial quarterfinal against Tunisia. However, she did not finish the game and said she would never be able to hold the fort until the end of the game.
“It was one of those things, and I knew I would not be able to finish the game following my absence last match. I had to be honest with myself and give a chance to the player who was fit enough to play,” the 29-year-old said.
The former AC Milan midfielder lamented poor finishing at the tournament and hopes the team will get it right in the next game on Monday.
“We came here with objectives, and one of them was to qualify for the World Cup, and we did that; now we soldier on to the semi-final and take it one game at a time,” Jane added.
She expressed gratitude to South Africans who have backed the team and promised they would fight to bring the trophy home. Banyana faces Zambia in the semi-final encounter that will be played on Monday at the Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca. Kick-off is at 19h00.
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By Kgopotso Makhubu