SA women’s team prepare for crucial E Guinea clash

Banyana Banyana face a tricky fixture this weekend when they take on Equatorial Guinea in a match that will decide who qualifies for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil in August.

The two sides played to a goalless draw in the first leg held at the Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa more than a week ago (Saturday, 3 October).

The second leg is set for Sunday, 18 October at Estadio de Bata in Equatorial Guinea. Kickoff is 17h00 South African time.

The winner between South Africa and Equatorial Guinea will qualify for the Olympic Games, which will take place from 5 – 21 August 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Iceland-based goalkeeper Roxanne Barker has been ever present in the team and was also part of the squad that qualified for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

“This is probably the most important 90 minutes of our lives – if you think about what being part of the Olympics is about, putting your country on the map. The more we are on these big stages the more women’s football will grow, the more young girls will play the game and perhaps the more money will come in and help with development of women’s football in South Africa,” said Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Roxanne Barker.

“It is very important to qualify – we want to win so badly for women’s football in South Africa and also do it for our coach because she has made such a huge difference since she got here. We have improved in all aspects thanks to her.”

Barker played a crucial game in the first leg but believes they need to step it up more.

“This is a very big match for us, we have to come out and fight so we can win the game. In the first leg we denied them any scoring chances because the defence was solid in front of me so we have to strive for another clean sheet and get some goals in the process to have any chance of going to Rio,” added Barker.

“I trust our attack and have a lot of confidence that we will get it right in this match. Seeing them at practice I can tell we have a good team and we can do it. I prefer playing away because at home there is more pressure with your home crowd. When you are away, the feeling of silencing the home crowd when you score is out of this world.”