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Clash with Nigeria is biggest for South Africa – Ellis



2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations opener with Nigeria will be the biggest and most important for South Africa, according to head coach Desiree Ellis.

Having finished as runners-up four times, Banyana Banyana are eyeing a maiden African crown and were drawn against eight-time winners Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya in Group B.

With the draw pitching them against the Super Falcons, the 55-year-old is looking forward to the high-profile clash in Cape Coast on October 18.

“We have played most of the teams over the last couple of years,” Ellis told Goal.

“Zambia played in the COSAFA Women’s Cup and have lots of quality players. Kenya played at the 2017 COSAFA Cup and gave a good account of themselves against Equatorial Guinea.

“Nigeria have lot of quality players who play abroad in top leagues and that experience you cannot buy. The fact that they are the defending champions says a lot about the quality they have.

“We will also be able to have a look at Zambia and Kenya in their first fixture at the tournament. I’m sure, the neutrals would have wanted that.

“The most important match is the first game and it cannot come bigger than playing the seven-time champions Nigeria. You just have to be on top of your game from the start.”

The former South Africa captain further revealed that her side’s ambition will be winning a first-ever African title and also to secure a qualification ticket to France 2019 Women’s World Cup.

“Like any team going to a tournament, we want to win it and as we have never won it,” she continued.

“It’s a target we have set for ourselves. We have to be prepared and ready to play any opponent as no team will be easy to play against. You underestimate teams at your own peril.

“All the other teams have the same ambition but if we fall short, then we want to make sure that we get one of those three spots to qualify for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.”

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