Banyana touch down in France

Weekend Witness - - Sport - SITHEMBISO DINDI

BANYANA Banyana ar­rived safely in France for the his­toric Fifa Women’s World Cup 2019 buzzing with con­fi­dence.

The Se­nior Women’s Na­tional Team touched down in the French cap­i­tal of Paris yes­ter­day morn­ing with Safa’s head of del­e­ga­tion, Emma Hen­dricks, say­ing ev­ery­one was in great spir­its.

The team left OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port around 6 pm on Thurs­day.

“We have ar­rived well though a bit fa­tigued but ev­ery­one is in high spir­its,” said Hen­dricks.

Banyana will play one friendly match against Norway in Amiens on June 2 be­fore kick­ing off their maiden Fifa World Cup cam­paign with a match against Spain on June 8. They then travel to Paris for a date with China be­fore round­ing off their group stage matches with a match against Ger­many in Mont­pel­lier.

Be­fore their de­par­ture, Safa pres­i­dent Danny Jor­daan spelt out the bonuses struc­ture of the team which he said was al­most on par with that of the Men’s Se­nior Na­tional Team, Bafana Bafana.

Be­fore the trip, head coach of Banyana, De­siree El­lis, had added three play­ers to the 23 she named for the World Cup.

The trio — mid­field­ers Nom­pumelelo Nyan­deni and Ongeziwe Nd­langisa, as well as goal­keeper Jes­sica Wil­liams — have been called up as standby play­ers and trav­elled with the squad to France but will re­turn to South Africa af­ter the friendly against Norway on June 2 in Amiens.

“For a tour­na­ment like the World Cup, you need to have play­ers on standby in the event of an in­jury to any­one in the squad that has been se­lected. The three play­ers have been part of the Banyana Banyana set-up in re­cent times and know how the team plays,” said El­lis.

“The rea­son we are go­ing with them to France is that we still have a match to play and don’t want to have to call some­one from back home, and also they will be at the same level of fit­ness as the other play­ers so it will not be a chal­lenge to in­tro­duce them back into the team – so in other words we al­ways have to be ready with our plan­ning.”

Mean­while, the China-based duo of Linda Motl­halo and Thembi Kgat­lana have re­ported for na­tional team duty. Both missed the friendly match against the USA ear­lier this month (May 12) due to club com­mit­ments. — WWR. DE­SPITE only hav­ing four tough games to se­cure their place in the Su­per Rugby play-offs, Sharks skip­per Louis Schreuder says the team has not started to feel pres­sure.

The Sharks will to­day host the Lions in a Su­per Rugby South African derby at King’s Park with kick­off set for 5.15 pm.

The Dur­ban-based fran­chise is cur­rently fourth in the con­gested South African con­fer­ence and sev­enth in the over­all log with 29 points af­ter 12 out­ings.

To make it to the play-offs, the Sharks will need to fin­ish in­side the top eight of the over­all log while a top fin­ish in their con­fer­ence will grant them a home match in the knock­out phase.

The best way for the Sharks to achieve that would be win­ning al­most all their four re­main­ing matches against the Lions, Hur­ri­canes, Ja­gau­res and Storm­ers in the round-robin for­mat.

But that won’t be easy as all the other sides are also look­ing to make the next round.

Schrueder is ob­vi­ously aware how the log looks like, but he said their fo­cus at the mo­ment is on their next game against the re­ju­ve­nated Lions side.

“I don’t think we have even spo­ken about pres­sure, ob­vi­ously we know what the log looks like, any­one can still go up and any­one can still go down as well,” said Schreuder.

“We are just fo­cus­ing on the Lions game, this is the game we need to fo­cus on and a game we need to win, so it’s a week-for-week thing and if our prepa­ra­tions go well and we per­form well the log will look af­ter it­self.

“I think the Lions are con­fi­dent af­ter their three or two wins now against good op­po­si­tions. The Waratahs and High­landers are good teams so the Lions will come here with a lot of con­fi­dence. They have got key guys back ex­cept for War­ren so they will be look­ing to have a good per­for­mance.”

Sharks young and tal­ented hooker Dy­lan Richard­son is likely to make his Su­per Rugby de­but to­day as he has been named in the re­place­ments.

Sharks coach Robert du Preez said the 19-year-old Dy­lan Richard­son. “will def­i­nitely get a chance, he is a guy with awe­some tal­ent and I’m re­ally ex­cited to see how he goes on Satur­day.

“He is very phys­i­cal, and he has got a tech­ni­cal set to go with that, so I think what a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for a young guy like him.”

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