Banyana Banyana to face New Zealand before Olympics


The South African Senior Women’s National Team, Banyana Banyana, will face New Zealand as part of preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The clash is scheduled to take place in Brazil on Thursday, 28 July – just six days before South Africa’s opening match against Sweden (Wednesday, 3 August 2016).

The venue and time for the New Zealand fixture are yet to be announced.

The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana has had perhaps some of the best preparation in recent years. They have been in and out of camp since November last year (2015), where they played Cameroon (friendly) and Botswana (African Women’s Championship qualifier) along the way.

Head coach Vera Pauw is delighted with how things have gone.

“The start of the last phase of preparations was when we faced Zimbabwe in an international friendly. Then we wanted a top team, but not from the top five in the world, just something in the middle that is not too high for us to handle. Fortunately we were able to play The Netherlands. The USA is the next step,” said Pauw.

“We build it up from top Africa, to sub-top in the world (Holland) to the very top, USA – this is the biggest game you can imagine. We might be hammered by a huge margin, even though I don’t think that will happen, but even then it is still worthwhile to get that experience now than at the Olympics. After the USA we will play New Zealand, which is the same kind of pressure but their football level is just a little bit lower than the USA. So that is the buildup from the bottom to the top – it’s a perfect build-up for the Olympics.”

South African and the USA meet Saturday, 9 July Saturday, 9 July at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Kickoff is at 19h00 South African time.

With the USA top of the Women’s World ranking, and being current World Champions, Pauw says she is looking forward to the clash.

“We will see against the USA, we have never played at that level, but we are preparing for it and we are doing everything we can to give them a good game. We will see if it is too high, but on the other hand at the Olympics we will face Brazil, which is just two places lower than USA, so we have to be ready – and the only way is to play these games,” added Pauw.

The South Africans recently returned from The Netherlands where they lost two international friendly matches against the host nation (1-0 and 2-0) – but Pauw believes they learnt a lot as they near the end of their preparations for Rio.

“It was a tremendous time out there – because it was more about less time on the ball, less space for action. I am happy that we could cope for the majority of the game, although The Netherlands was better because of their experience. They have been to the World Cup and the European Championships. They are 13th in the world, we are 54th, and some of our players have been to the Olympics while most have never played at the level of Holland,” said the South African mentor.

“The focus is more about keeping our concentration on the task at hand. You can’t drop it at any moment because at that level you get punished immediately. Under the pressure of less time and space this is very difficult. No one can concentrate fully for 90 min plus additional time. Experience makes you totally being focused on the key moments of your task.”

– New Zealand is ranked 16th in the world

– Have been to three World Cup tournaments – 2007, 2011, 2015

– They qualified for the last two Olympics Games – 2008, 2012

– They are in Group G at the 2016 Games alongside USA, Colombia and France

– At the Olympics, they are the only representatives from Oceania Football Confederation (OFC)

Upcoming Banyana Banyana Fixtures:

vs USA
International Friendly
Saturday, 9 July 2016
Soldier Field
19h00 SA time

vs New Zealand
International Friendly
Thursday, 28 July 2016
Venue TBC
Time TBC

Rio Olympic Games

Wednesday 03 August
Sweden vs South Africa
Olympic Stadium
13h00 (18h00 SA Time)

Saturday 06 August
South Africa vs China
Olympic Stadium
19h00 (12h00 midnight SA Time)

Tuesday 09 August
South Africa vs Brazil
Amazonia Arena (Manaus)
21h00 (02h00 Wednesday, 10 Aug SA Time)

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