Banyana strug­gle to find qual­ity op­po­si­tion

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWAGAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­

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

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