SAFA : Banyana Banyana ready for the Netherlands
Banyana Banyana took time off their training schedule on Thursday morning (2 June 2016) to go sight seeing in Amsterdam – the capital city of Netherlands. It is also the home of well know Eredivisie football club Ajax Amsterdam.
The players were over the moon about the visit.
“We have to thank both SAFA and Sasol for this outing, which we are using both as preparations for the Olympics but at the same to learn about other countries – their cultures and style of play. It is through football that we have are fortunate enough to live some experiences, which we could only dream of previously,” said defender Nomathemba Ntsibande.
Her words were echoed by forward Leandra Smeda.
“Some things are just what dreams are made of. Who would have thought that some day I would make it here to Amsterdam which has such a rich history. I am forever grateful that I was able to get here,” said Smeda.
But in the afternoon they were back on the field to continue preparations for the two international friendly fixtures against their Dutch counterparts.
The first is set for Saturday, 4 June and will be played at the Mandemakers Stadium in Waalwijk.
Kickoff is at 15h00.
The second fixture will take place three days later – Tuesday, 7 June – at the same venue with a 19h00 kickoff time.
Head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana Vera Pauw has been taking them through their paces since their arrival on
Tuesday (31 May) and believes nothing can prepare the players better than these high quality matches.
“It is crucial because without these kind of games you will never be able to face Sweden in that opening game at the Olympics and we will get a shock of our lives. But what is also good is that in their (Holland) last qualifier they played against Sweden, so we can compare what we do against them in relation to what they did against Sweden. It was a very close match, so much so that Netherlands almost qualified for the Olympics. So these two matches are against an opponent that will really test us and I hope they teach us what we need to learn in the last few weeks before the Olympics,” said Pauw.
She adds that it is not mainly about the results, but a chance for the players to check their readiness.
“We don’t know our limits, we don’t know our ceiling because we have never played too high an opposition like the Netherlands in this environment. The truth is we might suffer a big defeat – I don’t think so though but we will be ready for the fight. And if we get a big defeat it will be a lesson to show which way not to play, and which strategy not to use. But Banyana Banyana players are talented and we always push ourselves, and now we have made a big jump – it might not be too big but we can only see that in such games against the Netherlands,” added Pauw.
Midfielder Amanda Dlamini, one of the most experienced players in the squad, says it is crucial that they show what they have been doing when they face Holand.
“It is important for us that we put into practice all the hard work that we have put in over the last few months. It is also good that we do so against high quality opposition like Holland that will be able to put us under pressure so we can line ourselves with competition in Rio, and really gauge how far we have come,” said Dlamini.
The South Africans havent played against European opposition in about a year – since the Cyprus Cup in 2015 – and Dlamini is well aware of what to expect.
“Holland has experienced players and their tactical ability is also very high. They are a very fast-paced team with a lot of runners. Their physical aspect is a lot more like that of Brazil and there is quite a lot we can get out of this game. We need to focus all our attention on this match and see what we can really get out,” added Dlamini.
Banyana Banyana will have their last training session at the match venue this afternoon – Friday, 3 June.
Meanwhile influential midfielder Mamello Makhabane has been ruled out of the international friendly matches as she is still undergoing rehabilitation on her injured knee.