The South African Senior Women’s National Team, Banyana Banyana, is fully focussed on the upcoming African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCN) qualifiers against Botswana. The first leg will take place on Saturday at Lobatse Sports Complex Stadium in Lobatse, Botswana. Kick off is at 16:00.
Banyana Banyana coach Vera Pauw says it is important for the national team to qualify for all major tournaments: ‘It is important that the team qualifies for all major tournaments. So we had to slightly alter our training programme because this month we are just focusing on qualifying for the AWC. The clash against Botswana is now and the results are needed now, so we need to be ready now not later, hence we changed certain things in our training so as to be ready for this match. At this point we don’t talk about the Olympics but it’s just about qualification for AWC.’ The Sasol-sponsored South Africans recently returned from Cameroon where they played two international friendly matches against their Cameroonian counterparts. South Africa won the first match 2-0 in Douala and drew the second one 2-2 in Limbe.
Pauw says: ‘It was obvious that after five months of not playing competitive football it was a bit difficult to get going but I guess it was also the same for them. In the second encounter, individual mistakes on our part let us down, but then again it is better to commit those mistakes now than during the tournament or in a competitive match. This sums up what I have been saying that if you play more games then those mistakes will be less.’ With just four months remaining before the start of the Games, Pauw believes they are slowly getting to the required fitness levels for competition. The Banyana boss says: ‘It is all going well but we are little bit behind physically and not as explosive as we would want to be. I believe the Cameroon match gave us a good outing and we are working on increasing that gradually – but as I said the focus now is on AWC and afterwards we will continue with our training programme for Rio.’ The South Africans left for Botswana on Tuesday, 5 April and return on Sunday, 10 April. The second leg is penciled for Tuesday, 12 April 2016 at the Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa. Kick off at 19:00.
Meanwhile Pauw has called up goalkeeper Yolula Tsawe in place of the injured Busisiwe Ndimeni – she got injured in Cameroon.
Banyana Banyana squad list:
Janine Van Wyk
15. Mamello Makhabane
Photo credit: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix