Banyana Banyana and the South African u23 National Team have all but wrapped up their preparations on home soil, as they get ready to depart for Brazil for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games starting next month.
The two national teams qualified for the world’s biggest sporting spectacle last year in October (Banyana Banyana with a win over Equatorial Guinea) in December 2015 and (SA u23 coming third at the CAF u23 AFCON in Senegal).
The Banyana Banyana squad has played friendly games against Cameroon, Zimbabwe, The Netherlands and the USA as well as two home and away African Women’s Qualifiers against Botswana. They have also been holding training camps in between.
In Rio, they will face Sweden, China and hosts Brazil.
“It has been a very long and hard journey for all of us when we started camp back in November last year, now we can’t wait to get to Brazil for the start of competition. I must admit we have had one of the best preparations where we faced, amongst others, the world’s top ranked national team, the USA – what more can we ask for? We have to thank SAFA for all the efforts in making sure we are well prepared for the Olympics, not forgetting our proud sponsors Sasol and our partner National Lotteries Commission for travelling the journey with us, we can never thank you enough,” said Banyana Banyana coach Vera Pauw.
“What remains now is for us to get to Rio and round off preparations with our last friendly match against New Zealand. I am happy with the progress we have made, and the players are in a good condition. This week we changed our programme to start adapting to the Brazilian times and we are getting used to it, which means there won’t be much of a struggle to adapt. We will do our best and ensure we fly the flag high.”
Banyana Banyana will face New Zealand on Thursday, 28 July in Rio.