CAPE TOWN – Banyana Banyana have been riding roughshod over Group A opponents, but the acid test for them will be Malawi in today’s Cosafa Women’s Championship semi-final at the Wolfson Stadium in Nelson Mandela Bay (3.30pm kick-off).
Malawi have been thriving on the back of inspirational performances of the influential Chawinga sisters, Tabitha and Temwa, who ply their trade as professionals in China. After three matches, the Chawinga sisters have accounted for eight of the team’s 10 goals in group matches.
In the build-up to the match, Banyana coach Desiree Ellis was swamped with questions about her plans to thwart the sisters.
“From what we can see, these sisters have escalated Malawi’s play to a different level,” said Ellis. “We won’t make the mistake of concentrating too much on these two players. We need to play our own game and impose ourselves on the match.
“We must be aware of the threats these players pose and what they bring to the game.
“They can score goals, and so far they have been prolific at the tournament. We’ll look at the supply chain to them and try to stop the ball from reaching them.
“At the same time, we need our ‘danger’ players also to make a statement and punish them when opportunities arise.”
There is no clarity about what tactics Malawi will use against Banyana. Up to now, Malawi’s play has shown subtle differences in tactics and playing formations.
“Malawi have the benefit of fielding most of their first-choices as well as the Chawinga sisters. There is no question this team has come to play – they want to make a statement here at Cosafa.
“They can be physical, and equally, they absorb the opponents’ physicality, something we saw when they played Zambia.
“They may have a different game plan for our match, and we’ve seen they allow a certain level of freedom to key players who change the course of the match.”
Ellis said the coaching staff have had concerns going into the match and have addressed these at training.
“When looking at the stats of our earlier matches you’ll see we need to have shots on target,” said Ellis. “We need to minimise mistakes because mistakes create pressure, and that stifles our playing plans.”