24 July 2014
South Africa’s women’s football team, Banyana Banyana, will face Cameroon in their opening match of the 2014 Caf African Women’s Championship at the Independence Stadium in Windhoek, Namibia on 12 October.
Coach Vera Pauw’s charges were also drawn to take on Algeria and Ghana in Group B of the tournament when the draw was made at the Windhoek Country Club on the weekend.
The tournament kicks off on Saturday, 11 October with a match between hosts Namibia and Zambia at the Sam Nujoma Stadium.
The top three finishers will automatically qualify for the 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup, which will take place in Canada. South Africa has never before qualified for the World Cup.
Banyana Banyana were seeded in Group B after the failure of the defending champions, Equatorial Guinea, to qualify for the event.
Two years ago, Equatorial Guinea won the tournament on home soil, beating South Africa 4-0 in the final. Banyana Banyana had beaten their traditional nemesis, Nigeria, for the first time in the semi-finals to earn their place in the title-decider.
Nigeria the top-ranked team
Nigeria will be back to challenge for the title again this year, having won the African Women’s Championship eight times, most recently in 2010 when South Africa hosted the tournament.
Joining Nigeria in Group A are Namibia, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire.
Nigeria is the highest ranked of the teams contesting the championship finals, occupying 34th place on Fifa’s world rankings. Ghana is ranked 48th and South Africa 51st.
The teams will face off in round-robin play in their groups before the top two from each group advance to the semi-finals.
South Africa’s record
Banyana Banyana have finished as runners-up in the African Women’s Championship four times previously.
Apart from their second-place finish two years ago, they lost two other finals, also against the host nations, going down 1-2 to Equatorial Guinea in 2008 and losing 0-2 to Nigeria in 2000.
In 1995, Nigeria convincingly defeated South Africa over two legs in the final, winning 4-1 and 7-1 for an 11-2 aggregate victory.