Banyana Banyana midfielder Amanda Dlamini says that while they were disappointed that their team did not progress to the quarterfinals of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, a solid foundation has been laid.
Dlamini is one of ten players that recently returned from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and was also at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The others are Roxanne Barker, Nothando Vilakazi, Janine van Wyk, Noko Matlou, Leandra Smeda, Amanda Dlamini, Refiloe Jane, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Robyn Moodaly and Sanah Mollo.
In selecting her squad for the Rio Olympics, Banyana Banyana head coach Vera Pauw mixed experience with a bit of youth in the team. Striker, Linda Motlhalo was the youngest at 18.
“Some of the players are under 20 or just above, and it looks like we have a solid future in the national team. It is just a matter of how we are going to rope the other players in,” Dlamini said.
“It is also about refreshing the consistency until we have a proper squad that will qualify for the World Cup. We also want that team to move reach the quarterfinals at the Olympics and perhaps even to the semifinals.
“I honestly believe that we do have a bright future with this team. It is just a matter making sure the ground we need to perform on is well laid at a very competitive level, apart from the big competitions like the Olympics.”
Some of the young players Dlamini referred to were Kaylin Swart, 21, Stephanie Malherbe, 20, Thembi Kgatlana, 21, Linda Motlhalo, 18, Jermaine Seoposenwe, 22, Lebogang Ramalepe, 24, Refiloe Jane, 24, Roxanne Barker, 25, Andile Dlamini, 24, Shiwe Nogwanya, 22 and Robyn Moodaly, 22.
They can all still features at the next Olympics Games which will take place in Tokyo in 2020.
Dlamini says they are disappointed that they did not get the desired results in the tournament when they did not progress to the next stage. But she believes they have made their mark as a team.
“Yes, obviously we are very disappointed purely because I know the quality that is in this team and the ability we have shown is just amazing. But having said that, we achieved something we had never done before.
“Firstly, we have always wished that we can have proper preparations towards big tournaments, and for the first time ever we played world champions USA and also played back to back matches against the Netherlands, not forgetting New Zealand – something that has never happened before,” said Dlamini.
“Because of the performance we displayed in the last couple of months, nations are now willing to play Banyana Banyana. Also, with the performance that we showed at the Olympic Games – people won’t ignore us. We hope to have more of these games with the top nations. If other teams have qualified for major tournaments, they will want to play Banyana Banyana, so it’s good exposure. I am pleased in that regard but disappointed that we couldn’t make it to the next round.”
Banyana Banyana’s next major assignment is the 2016 Africa Women Cup of Nations. The 12th Edition will be staged in Cameroon between 19 November and 3 December.
A total of eight teams will play in the tournament – hosts Cameroon (11th appearance), Egypt (2nd), Ghana (11th), Kenya (1st), Mali 6th), Nigeria (12th), South Africa (11th) and Zimbabwe (4th).
NB: Mali replaced Equatorial Guinea after they were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player.