Former Banyana Banyana international Amanda Dlamini says the current generation of South Africa players under the guidance of coach Desiree Ellis is capable of doing wonders at the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup.
Dlamini was speaking to Goal on Monday and congratulated the team for making positive strides in the recent 2018 Africa Women's Cup of Nations tournament in Ghana where they reached the final as well as qualified for the global showpiece event for the very first time.
“Yeah absolutely, beating Nigeria in the opening match made everything seem possible because we all know Nigeria is a big team to beat in any continental tournament,” Dlamini told Goal.
“Once you beat them then the rest of the tournament becomes easier since you will have terms of reference in terms of organisation and planning,” she explained.
“Look, the girls played very well because they lost once in the tournament (in the final) and they have made huge strides. I think we also need to thank Sasol for playing a huge role in developing and assisting the team by bringing coach Vera (Pauw),” noted Dlamini.
“She laid a good foundation over the past few years and it was easier for coach Desiree to take the baton and run with it in ensuring there is continuity and consistency,” reflected the former midfielder.
“We also have to look at our players who are now playing in overseas leagues, that was a stumbling block in the past for the team. There is organisation in the team now because they only had experience from the Sasol League. Playing overseas exposed them to good football and that has made the difference,” she said.
A look at the second clash against the Super Falcons in the final, the former footballer now turned pundit said losing on penalties was not a bad result.
“It is not a bad result in my view, but people will look at it differently because we didn't win the trophy, and considering what Banyana have been through, I think they made good progress, and once they taste a victory it becomes an addiction,” she continued.
“Let us give credit to the technical team and the players for working hard and finally reaching the World Cup. I am sure they wanted to go all the way and win the trophy, but losing on penalties is not bad because that is like a lottery,” said Dlamini.
“Speaking about nominations, it is good to get recognition, the team, players and the coach deserve something and it would be good to see their individual contribution recognised,” she acknowledged.
“They have been nominated for a number of times, but we only have Noko (Matlou) who has won one of the biggest awards in continental football, and I would like to see another player getting it. A player such as Thembi (Kgatlana) has really done well for the country,” Dlamini stated.
Looking ahead to the global tournament next year, the Banyana legend expressed confidence in the national side, suggesting that they can reach the knockout stages in France.
“In my view we are certainly ready, and if you look at our our performance at the Rio Olympics we did well. And we were just unfortunate not to reach the knockout stages,” she continued.
“I have faith because most of our players are plying their trades overseas and we are becoming a top team based on their international experience,” added the TV analyst.
“I honestly believe we can go far and do well because we are confident now. I would also like to congratulate the team, sponsors Sasol, Safa and players such as Mpumi Nyandeni and Matlou because they have been there since the inception of the team and they really worked hard,” she praised.
“They were patient to bring the changes in the team and help groom the youngsters. Their presence in the team made a huge difference,” she concluded.