Banyana Banyana were handed a tricky draw in the 2018 Total Africa Women Cup of Nations held on Sunday, 21 October 2018 in Accra, Ghana.
The South Africans are Group B along with the defending champions Nigeria, as well as Zambia and Kenya, and they will be based in the coastal city of Cape Coast.
“There was never going to be an easy group – all eight teams that have qualified are top quality, and we all know that to be the best, you have to beat the best. is no easy group. We have been anxiously waiting for this draw to take place so that we take our preparations to the next level now that we know who we will face in the tournament,” said Banyana Banyana head coach Desire Ellis.
“We have played all three teams before, which means we have a good idea of what we are up against – and that does not in any way mean they will be easy, in fact, more to the contrary. But we know what our mission is – to qualify for the World Cup, and that is not negotiable.”
Banyana Banyana open their campaign against the Nigerians on 18 November 2018 – just a day after Bafana Bafana would have played the Super Eagles in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
“Nigeria has won this tournament a record seven times, and they are the defending champions, so they will definitely be sensing victory against us – but we are glad to be meeting them now and not later in the tournament because our last encounter ended in tears for us – we lost 1-0 in the semifinal of this competition in 2016, and that denied us a chance to be at the World Cup,” added Ellis.
“Playing them in the first match is also a tricky affair because you have to be on top of your game from the first whistle, and any mistake they will punish you. In any case, I always tell the players that the first fixtures of any tournament are very important as they set the tone for the rest of the competition. I believe we will be ready for them this time – we are much wiser.”
In the second match South Africa will take on Kenya 21 November – also at Cape Coast, but will travel to Accra for the final group stage fixture against Zambia on 24 November.
In Group A, hosts have been drawn against Cameroon, Mali and Algeria in the Group A, and will play their matches in the capital Accra.
The tournament kicks off on 17 November with the Black Queens (Ghana) up against Algeria at the Accra Sports Stadium.
Of the eight nations taking part in the competition, only Nigeria has won the AFCON – a record 10 times. South Africa, who are making their 12th appearance, had their best showing in 1995, 2000, 2008 and 2012 when they finished as runners up.
The semifinals are set for 27 November, with the bronze match scheduled for 30 November. The final will be played on 1 December in Accra. The top two sides in the groups will progress to the semi-finals.
This year’s competition, to be held in the West African country for the first time, also serves as the African qualifiers to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The top three teams will qualify for the World Cup to be held in France in June next year.
2018 Total Africa Women Cup of Nations Draw
Group A: Ghana 🇬🇭, Algeria 🇩🇿, Mali 🇲🇱, Cameroon 🇨🇲
Group B: Nigeria 🇳🇬, South Africa 🇿🇦, Zambia 🇿🇲, Kenya 🇰🇪