Banyana almost ready for Olympics

2012-06-15 11:25

The national women’s soccer team is moving closer to being ready

for its inaugural Olympic Games participation next month, captain Amanda Dlamini

said today.


“We are almost there, I feel, in terms of our preparations,” she

said.


“I would say that this team is probably at 75 to 78% ready for the

Olympics at the moment.”


Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza earlier this week highlighted the

South African problem of not consistently finding the back of the net as an area

that needed improvement from his charges.


While they easily brushed aside Tanzania and Zambia, scoring nine

goals in recent matches, the team will need to be sharp to unlock some of the

world’s best defences in the tournament.


Banyana are in Group F, alongside Japan, Canada and Sweden, who are

in the top seven in the world rankings.


Their attack in their matches in Coventry and Cardiff will be

carried by Noko Matlou and the Russian-based Nompumelelo Nyandeni.


Matlou’s regular striking partner Dlamini has been deployed in a

deeper midfield position in recent times.


However, the midfield creativity will be bolstered by the return of

former captain, Portia Modise, after ending her national team hiatus.


“We have a few days in camp and we will use the time to analyse the

last match [against Zambia] and iron out tactical errors that we committed,”

said Mkhonza.


“The mission for us remains going for an all-out attack.”


Another concern was potential injuries in their final preparations,

with the 18-women squad announced last week not expected to change.


Some players are expected to feature for their respective clubs in

the national championships later this month.


Injured star defender Janine van Wyk will be fit for the Germany

camp in July, but will miss next weekend’s friendly encounter against Nigeria in

Lagos.


Banyana drew 1-1 with Nigeria’s Super Falcons – who have never lost

to the South Africans – when they met in Rustenburg two weeks ago.


They have one remaining fixture at home heading to the sporting

showpiece, against the Zambians, in their African Women’s Championships

qualifier return leg in Nelspruit on Saturday.


While Banyana hold a 4-1 lead from the away first leg a fortnight

ago, Dlamini said they still needed to give respect to the visitors when they

meet at KaNyamazane Stadium.


“We will have to give them the respect they deserve,” said the

captain.


“This is a new match and [we] will have to ensure that we give a

good display, and not worry about the scoreline from the first leg.”


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