Jane says Banyana should respect Nigeria despite recent success over the Super Falcons

Written by on 4 April, 2024

By Ayanda Nyuswa

South Africa vs Nigeria clash has grown to be one of the biggest matches in women’s football on the African continent over the years, given the recent rise in strength of coach Desire Ellis’ Banyana Banyana team in the women’s game. The next installment of the rivalry will be a two-legged tie in the fourth round of the Paris Olympic qualifiers. The first leg will is at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta in Nigeria, and the return fixture will be at the Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria on Tuesday 9 April 2024. The winner of the tie will book a ticket to this years Olympic games and slot into a tough group C that has reining world champions Spain, Japan and Brazil.

Coach Desiree Ellis has welcomed a number of key players back in the squad, and included them in the 24-member group that travelled to the West African country. South Africa’s captain Refiloe Jane headlines the list of returnees as she is set to play her first international match since the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup where she suffered an injury that kept her out for six months.

Speaking to the SAFA media team ahead of the first leg, Fifi expressed her excitement of returning to the international stage after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, and is hopeful that her experience will come in handy when they do battle against their long time rivals

“Feels good to be back with the team, it has been a long journey of recovery but all that is behind me now I am more focused at gelling back in with the team, and making sure that the experience I gained over the years I am able to share with the other players,” said the WAFCON winning captain.

“Now we have got a mandate to qualify for the Olympics in Paris later this year so that is what we are focusing on and what we are working on as a team. We know the qualities we have amongst ourselves so we will try to put that together and make sure that we succeed.”

Over the years Nigeria have conquered the African continent on several occassions, winning eleven Women’s Africa Cup of Nations titles and qualifying for every edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup since its inception in 1991. However, South Africa have found success in recent years against the highest ranked African team, winning four of the last five matches against the Super Falcons, including a 2-1 win in the tournament opener at the 2022 WAFCON in Morocco. Despite South Africa’s recent success against Nigeria Jane believes they should give the West Africans the respect they deserve going into the final round of Olympic qualifiers.

“Even though we have played Nigeria a couple of times and recently we have won against them, we still need to give them the respect they deserve. They are still the undisputed African champs in theory looking at how many times they have ruled Africa. We still respect them but we also look at the qualities we have in our team, we look at the strides we have made in the team. Not so long ago we beaten them twice and also got a couple of draws against them so with the journey we have been on it’s an upward trajectory,” Jane added.

Picture: FARpost

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