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Ellis: Time to walk the talk

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis is fully aware of the magnitude of this evening’s AWCON semi-final and has stressed the importance of crossing the one hurdle that truly counts.

The senior women’s team are on the brink of making history after a sterling Africa Women’s Cup of Nations campaign up to this point – reaching the last-four after an unbeaten group-stage run.

Mali now stand between them and a place at their very first FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is set to be staged in France in June/July next year.

“We have been saying we will take this tournament game by game, and now the most important match is upon us,” said Ellis.

“This is a final for us, as qualification for the World Cup is non-negotiable. We have been dreaming of this moment for a long time, now it’s time to walk the talk.

“We are within touching distance and it is all in our hands. We have to leave everything on the field and not count on having a second bite of the cherry at the third and fourth-place play-off, as it does not exist in our minds. 

“We have come too far to leave it all behind. This is one match that no player needs motivation for.”

Beating reigning tournament champions Nigeria in their opening group clash last week will mean very little now as they face a Mali side making their first appearance in the knockout stage of the continental finals, and Ellis is wary of taking them lightly.

Beating reigning tournament champions Nigeria in their opening group clash last week will mean very little now as they face a Mali side making their first appearance in the knockout stage of the continental finals, and Ellis is wary of taking them lightly.

“For the fact that they [Mali] are in the last-four means they are capable of playing, so we cannot take them for granted based on their past performance in this tournament,” she warned.

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