Banyana Banyana head coach Vera Pauw believes the second leg will be tougher after her side got a narrow 1-0 win over Kenya in a 2016 Rio Olympic Games qualifier played at the Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on Saturday, 18 July 2015.
A late second half goal from defender Lebohang Ramalepe was enough to secure victory for the home side.
Banyana Banyana will be in Kenya next weekend for the return leg which is scheduled for Sunday, 2 August 2015 at the Machakos Stadium in the capital Nairobi.
“It will be a tough encounter away, but I believe we will create chances again and hopefully this time convert them. The best thing is that we did not concede and all credit to our centrebacks and central midfielders who did a wonderful job. Because of them we kept our shape and were not moved despite the opposition trying numerous times to find a way to our goals. Teamwork in the final third needs to developed more for us to get more goals but if you have new players it becomes more difficult,” said Pauw.
“I was happy though with how we started but not entirely happy with the chances we created and missed. It then led to a tough second half because the opponents sat in their own half. I was not surprised with how they played – what we heard of them is exactly how they played. Again, our teamwork was not as refined as it should have been, but we will work on it.”
Pauw remains confident of returning victorious despite the slender one goal advantage into the second leg.
“I am not sure if they are capable of changing their style of play so maybe they will come with the same approach because they have dangerous strikers and we have to be at our best to make sure we do not concede, and let’s face it, if they don’t score then we are through. I don’t expect a different approach from them,” added the Banyana Banyana mentor.
The overall winner between South Africa and Kenya will face one between Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria in the next round – the fourth and final stage.
Nigeria were held to a 1-all draw by Equatorial Guinea also on Saturday, 18 July in Abuja. The overall winner between Banyana Banyana and Kenya will face the victors in the Nigeria/Equatorial Guinea clash, and Pauw believes her charges can see the promised land is almost near.
“In a positive way you can feel the players are also frustrated when they don’t score more and you could see the celebration after the match was not big – that is good because they expect more from themselves as they know that they can do better together – they know we need that to reach Rio and that’s the only goal at the moment,” said Pauw.
“So should we go through after the return leg in Kenya, then the All Africa Games will be our preparations for the fourth and final round of the Olympic qualifiers because Rio is the most important thing for us. And if we don’t get to Rio, then the All Africa Games are a must win for us.”
South Africa has been drawn in Group B against Cameroon, Ghana and Egypt in the All Africa Games scheduled to take place from 3-18 September in Brazzaville, Congo.
Banyana Banyana go into camp next week (Monday, 27 July) to prepare for the away leg to Kenya.
The South Africans expect midfielder Refiloe Jane and goalkeeper Roxanne Barker back in the squad for the second leg after the duo they missed the first leg. Jane was given time off as she returned from the World Student Games in Korea just two days before the clash with Kenya while Barker was not released by her club in Iceland.