Thunderbirds hope EL fixture will give boost

In happier times when the Thunderbirds celebrated their Sasol League Championship victory last season. Now they are struggling to cope in the newly established Safa National Women's League.
ON A HIGH In happier times when the Thunderbirds celebrated their Sasol League Championship victory last season. Now they are struggling to cope in the newly established Safa National Women's League.
Image: SUPPLIED.

Mdantsane-born Thunderbirds skipper Siyamthanda Skeyi strongly believes bringing their National Women’s League fixture to East London will work to their advantage as most of her teammates have played at the Southernwood venue.

The Butterworth-based reigning Sasol League provincial champions are busy preparing to play their seventh game in SA Football Association’s league against the high flying First Touch Academy at Jan Smuts Stadium on Saturday (kickoff at 3pm).

Thunderbirds recently lost 3-2 to University of Johannesburg (UJ) at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. They only have five games remaining in the National League and Skeyi, who is a former Young Ideas striker, said coming back to East London would give her struggling side home ground advantage which they were yet to experience in the fast-paced league.

“I played at Jan Smuts for almost three seasons when I was at Young Ideas. Most of the players we have in the team have played there and they know that terrain well so bringing our game to that pitch will help us get home ground advantage we’ve been yearning for,” Skeyi said.

“I think that will play a big role in helping us bounce back from this bad start to the National Women’s league.

“We have one win only in six games and we need to start winning more games now.” Thunderbirds have battled to find the desired results after recording four losses with a single win and a draw since they began their campaign, but Skeyi said the latest result was not a true reflection of their “improved game tactics.”

Currently they occupy ninth place on the log standings with 4 points.

“We were playing good football and everyone was comfortable during the game and I find it difficult to explain how we lost that game.

“We’ve seen them playing a couple of times and we had prepared thoroughly for them but I guess it was not meant to be. But I’m happy that we were able to score a couple of times because that will give us more confidence going to Jan Smuts.”

The Banyana Banyana midfielder said going up against the fourth-placed Touch Academy, who have won three games with a single draw and a loss, would be a challenge but they would not let the visitors walk all over them as the host.

“We were strong in the defence and we were creating chances to score so that’s what we need to focus on — building a stronger side that can stay in this league.

“We have already gelled but we are looking for a breakthrough so that we can continue to grow stronger in this league.

“We might have not played First Touch before but we are not thinking about that.

“We are focusing on ourselves only,” said Skeyi.

mfundop@dispatch.co.za


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