Former Banyana Banyana star Khabo Zitha, believes playing more high profile matches is key to getting the national team battle ready for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
Fresh from being crowned Africa champions, Brazil mauled the Desiree Ellis coached Banyana 6-0 in a friendly match, that exposed the gulf between the two teams ahead of next year’s World Cup, to be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
It is against the backdrop of that rude awakening loss, that Zitha believes more work needs to be put in, to get the team ready for the biggest stage in women’s football.
“There is no shortcut to success. The team needs to really play more games. Not just any games but quality opposition. Remember, they will be up against professionals that eat and sleep football. Countries like the USA, Japan, England and France have professional leagues and their players are well paid. We will be badly exposed if we don’t prepare the team properly,” said the former dribbling wizard.
The former Banyana and Mamelodi Sundowns ace heaped praise on the “fantastic work” that Ellis has done with the team, and believes she is the right coach to build on the success of the Africa Cup of Nations.
“Desiree has done an amazing job. She is a good coach and mentor, who has achieved a lot as both a player and coach. It is however important for her to get more support, maybe even an assistant with world cup experience. You can never have enough manpower for the world cup,” she said.
Banyana media officer Sinethemba Mbatha said they were happy with the way the team was being prepared when she revealed that Ellis would be travelling to Auckland, New Zealand for Saturday’s Fifa Women’s World Cup draw.
“The draw on 22 October will reveal our group stage opponents. It is only then that we will map out the type of opposition that would best prepare us for the tournament. The coach has a good plan in place that will see Banyana compete with the very best in the world,” said Mbatha.
Zambia, Morocco Nigeria and Africa champions South Africa, will be the four African representatives at the world cup.