Banyana struggle to find quality opposition
Acquiring good, quality opposition will be Banyana Banyana's biggest challenge in the team’s build-up to the Olympic Games in August.
With six months to go to the Games in Brazil, securing high-profile friendly matches between next month and July will be top of coach Vera Pauw’s wish list in the programme she has handed to Safa.
“We are this team nobody is curious about and not many want to travel to South Africa or give up their Fifa date to play us,” Pauw told City Press during the team’s training camp this week.
She added: “We need good opponents and can only really plan properly after the [Olympic women’s football tournament] draw in April.
“Ideally, we would like to play highprofile matches at the end of February, since the Cyprus tournament is not happening. Fortunately we have an African Women’s Championship qualifier against Botswana in April [to help with match fitness].”
The Cyprus Cup is an invitational women’s football tournament held annually in that country, but Banyana will not be competing in it.
The coach said the team’s training camp was focused on keeping the Banyana players fit.
“It’s going to be two weeks every month,” said the former Dutch senior national women’s team captain, who turned 53 two weeks ago.
It has been three months since Banyana booked their ticket to Rio and Pauw said the reality of it had now sunk in for the players.
“It is a huge dream and we want to make an impact [at the Olympics].”
As much as Pauw would like to have a full complement of players at her disposal, she conceded that calling up overseas players outside the Fifa international calendar weeks “would be a challenge, but we’ll solve that”.
Her foreign-based players include Jermaine Seoposenwe, Robyn Moodaly,
RIO RUNNERS Coach Vera Pauw takes her charges through a drill during team training this week