Banyana Banyana were handed a tricky draw in the 2018 Total Africa Women Cup of Nations held on Sunday, 21 October 2018 in Accra, Ghana, deleted in Group B along with the defending champions Nigeria, as well as Zambia and Kenya.
The South Africans will be based in the coastal city of Cape Coast.
“There was never going to be an easy group.” – Banyana Banyana head coach Desire Ellis
“All eight teams that have qualified are top quality, and we all know that to be the best, you have to beat the best, there is no easy group,” said Ellis. “We have been anxiously waiting for this draw to take place so that we take our preparations to the next level now that we know who we will face in the tournament.
“We have played all three teams before, which means we have a good idea of what we are up against – and that does not in any way mean they will be easy, in fact, more to the contrary. But we know what our mission is – to qualify for the World Cup, and that is not negotiable.”
Of Banyana Banyana opening their campaign against the Nigerians on 18 November 2018, the coach said: “Nigeria has won this tournament a record seven times, and they are the defending champions, so they will definitely be sensing victory against us
“But we are glad to be meeting them now, and not later in the tournament, because our last encounter ended in tears for us …
“We lost 1-0 in the semifinal of this competition in 2016, and that denied us a chance to be at the World Cup,” Desire Ellis
“Playing them in the first match is also a tricky affair, because you have to be on top of your game from the first whistle, and any mistake they will punish you.
“In any case, I always tell the players that the first fixtures of any tournament are very important, as they set the tone for the rest of the competition,” continued Ellis. “I believe we will be ready for them this time – we are much wiser.”
In the second match South Africa will take on Kenya 21 November – also at Cape Coast, but will travel to Accra for the final group stage fixture against Zambia on 24 November.
In Group A, hosts have been drawn against Cameroon, Mali and Algeria in the Group A, and will play their matches in the capital Accra.
The tournament kicks off on 17 November with the Black Queens (Ghana) up against Algeria at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Of the eight nations taking part in the competition, only Nigeria has won the AFCON – a record 10 times. South Africa, who are making their 12th appearance, had their best showing in 1995, 2000, 2008 and 2012 when they finished as runners up.
The semifinals are set for 27 November, with the bronze match scheduled for 30 November.
The final will be played on 1 December in Accra, the first time the competition will be held in the West African country, and in a country that also serves as the African qualifiers to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Significantly, the top three teams to medal at the 2018 Total Africa Women Cup of Nations will qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France next June.
2018 Total Africa Women Cup of Nations Qualifiers by Appearances:
Ghana 12th (Runners up 98, 02, 06)
Algeria 5th (Group stage 2004)
Mali 7th (Fifth place 2006, 2016)
Cameroon 13th (Runners up 1991, 2004, 2014, 2016)
Nigeria 13th Appearance (Champs in 1991, 95, 98, 00, 02, 04, 06, 10, 14, 16)
South Africa 12th (Runner up in 1995, 2000, 2008, 2012)
Zambia 3rd (Quarter-finals 95)
Kenya 2nd (Group stages)
Fixtures for the 2018 Total Africa Women Cup of Nations in Accra, Ghana (17 Nov – 1 Dec 2018):
Group Matches (SA Times):
No. Match (Group) – Time and Date (Venue)
1. Ghana vs Algeria (Group A) – 5:30pm, 17 November (Accra Stadium)
2. Mali vs Cameroon (Group A) – 8:30pm, 17 November (Accra Stadium)
3. Nigeria vs South Africa (Group B) – 5:30pm, 18 November (Cape Coast Stadium)
4. Zambia vs Kenya (Group B) – 8:30pm, 18 November (Cape Coast Stadium)
5. Ghana vs Mali (Group A) – 5:30pm, 20 November (Accra Stadium)
6. Cameroon vs Algeria (Group A) – 8:30pm, 20 November (Accra Stadium)
7. Nigeria vs Zambia (Group A) – 5:30pm, 21 November (Cape Coast Stadium)
8. Kenya vs South Africa (Group A) – 8:30pm, 21 November (Cape Coast Stadium)
9. Cameroon vs Ghana (Group A) – 6:00pm, 23 November (Accra Stadium)
10. Algeria vs Mali (Group A) – 6:00pm, 23 November (Cape Coast Stadium)
11. Kenya vs Nigeria (Group A) – 6:00pm, 24 November (Cape Coast Stadium)
12. South Africa vs Zambia (Group A) – 6:00pm, 24 November (Accra Stadium)
13. 1st Group A vs 2nd Group B – 5:30pm, 27 November (Accra Stadium)
14. 1st Group B vs 2nd Group A – 8:30pm, 27 November (Cape Coast Stadium)
15. Loser Match 13 vs Loser Match 14 – 6:00pm, 30 November (Cape Coast Stadium)
16. Winner Match 13 vs Winner Match 14 – 6:00pm, 1 December (Accra Stadium)
African and International Rankings of 2018 Total Africa Women Cup of Nations Qualifiers:
Nigeria: 1st in Africa (38th in the world)
Ghana: 2nd (47th)
Cameroon: 3rd (49th)
South Africa: 4th (50th)
Algeria: 8th (80th)
Mali: 10th (89th)
Zambia: 15th (116th)
Photo 1 caption: The 2018 CAF Total Africa Women Cup of Nations will be contested in Ghana from from 17 November to 1 December, 2018, and will see South Africa drawn alongside seven-times champs Nigeria, and Kenya and Zambia, in the competition’s Group B. Photo: CAF
With editing by gsport