Monday Aug 12, 2019. 18:00
South African stand-in skipper Refiloe Jane says it was ‘mission accomplished’ for her side as they retained the COSAFA Women’s Championship trophy for a third year in a row with a 1-0 victory over Zambia in Sunday’s final in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The victory was a sixth in seven previous regional championships and continues South Africa’s dominance that now sees them keep the coveted piece of silverware on a permanent basis, and provides a fine build-up to the Olympic Games qualifier with Botswana later this month.
“We are excited to have retained the trophy, we came here with a mission to defend the cup. We are now looking forward to what lies ahead,” Jane says.
“Zambia came with a strategy, and we had to change our system because we felt they were coming hard at us. The goal in the first half kept us in the upper hand throughout the game.”
Banyana Banyana were winless in 13 matches going into the competition and that run had put them under some pressure according to Jane, despite their recent visit to the FIFA World Cup in France.
“We were under pressure, having not won a game in a long time, we had to make sure the lessons we learnt at the World Cup were applied here at home,” she says.
“The medal this time is different in the way we get to keep the trophy. We made history by making it three times in a row.
Only Jane and fullback Lebo Ramalepe started the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship, which shows the overhaul of the squad for this competition with coach Des Ellis without her overseas-based stars.
“As long as you are in the coaches plans, whenever you are given a chance to deliver, you have to deliver. It is all about teamwork, we lift each other up,” Jane added.
“This tournament was important for the team, looking at the fact we are also preparing for the Olympic qualifiers against Botswana. We will take some lessons from his tournament so that by the time we play them, we are ready.
“The goals scored throughout the tournament, the players that got on the scoresheet and the way the goals came about, it was about teamwork and communication.
“We also scored from set-pieces, which we have not done in a long while, so this was a chance for us to make sure we work on that and capitalise on that.
“The performance here is a reflection of the lessons learned at the World Cup. We have been creating scoring opportunities, but not putting the ball in the net. We did that in this tournament.”