Banyana Banyana to face World Champions USA

Banyana Banyana to face World Champions USA

2016-USA3 The South African Senior Women’s National Team, Banyana Banyana will face the United States of America Women’s Football National Team – for the first time ever – in an international friendly match as part of preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Banyana Banyana and the Stars and Stripes will meet on Saturday, 9 July 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.

Kickoff is at 12h00 local time (19h00 SA Time – USA is seven hours behind SA).

The USA is ranked number one in women’s football and they are also the current World Champions.

Banyana Banyana head coach Vera Pauw says her team could not have asked for a stronger opposition to prepare for the Olympics.

“What else can you wish for than playing the World Champions in your final preparation for the Olympics?

“It is absolutely amazing and we are thrilled to play them. Of course it will be very difficult and we might suffer a big defeat but it doesn’t really matter as I believe it is better to go through that now than at the Olympics. And it is the only way to be ready for the difficult battles we will encounter in Rio. These players have never experienced such opposition so it is amazing. I would also like to say thanks to the USA for agreeing to play us,” said Pauw.

The match against the USA will the first meeting between the two countries in women’s football and will also mark just the second African country that has faced the USA in its history. The Americans have played Nigeria four times in World Cup or Olympic competition.

USA head coach Jill Ellis said playing Banyana Banyana was a thrilling prospect.

“We are very excited to play a country that we have never faced before as we will get another team that will be competing in the Olympics. We are going to really embrace this opportunity to play in front of our home fans before we go to Brazil,” said USA head coach Jill Ellis.

The President of the South African Football Association (SAFA), Dr Danny Jordaan is excited that they managed to clinch the deal to play against the Americans.

“To be the best you must play the best; they don’t come bigger than the USA. What else can we ask for? We want to give our team the best preparation we can and will do everything in our power to ensure that they are fully prepared for the Rio Olympics.

I would also like to convey our greatest gratitude to our proud sponsor Sasol for making this friendly possible. We are proud to have such partners,” said Dr Jordaan.

The South Africa vs USA encounter comes hot on the heels of another high profile assignment – back-to-back clashes against The Netherlands, taking place on Saturday, 4 June and Tuesday, 7 June in Holland.

“We played Cameroon first, then we followed up with Botswana in the African Women Championship qualifiers. Not so long ago we faced Zimbabwe in another tough match, and coming up now are top games against The Netherlands – which will help us a lot – next is a game that is perhaps at the highest level you can think of – against the USA. We still have another international match before the start of the Games so I am happy with our programme,” added Pauw.

Article:Madoda Ntuli

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