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Banyana coach looks forward to Falcons’ challenge

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Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says her side will be ready to face old foe Nigeria when the teams clash in the Aisha Buhari Cup on Tuesday.

Hosts Nigeria secured a 2-0 win over Mali in their opener, while Bayana completed an excellent 3-0 victory over Ghana to signal their potential.

The exhibition tournament, which features the leading sides on the continent, is being used to fine-tune squads ahead of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers next month, which in turn begin the long road to 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification.

“We have to make sure we get the plan right, we know what Nigeria is capable of. They are not the number one team in Africa for nothing. They have shown their pedigree over many years,” Ellis said.

“We have to stay on top of our game and make sure we stayed focussed. The game we played against Ghana helped the team settle a bit more.”

Ellis suggested there would not be too many changes for the Nigeria clash, which will be their last before a mostly home-based squad competes in the 2021 Cosafa Women’s Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay from next Tuesday.

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“We are always looking at playing other players and giving others an opportunity, but we also want to win the game. You want to put your best lineup on the field and then make the changes from there.

“We have looked at a few areas of how we can do things differently, we will decide what we are going to do and how best it will suit the team. But our players are ready to step up, it doesn’t matter who gets chosen.

“We have shown over the last few years that we trust the players and that is the most important thing. If the player gets given an opportunity I am sure they will rise up.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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