Banyana Banyana will have to redouble their efforts if they are to upset high-ranked Australia in an international friendly on Saturday afternoon in the UK.
South Africa will play the match without ten players who were part of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations winning squad in July.
The first-ever game against the Australians will be staged at the Kingsmeadow Stadium in London. Both nations are using the match as part of preparations for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Banyana Banyana’s most influential players will not be available for the match against Australia. The team’s main striker Thembi Kgatlana is still out with a long-term injury. Also unavailable for the clash are co-captains Refiloe Jane and number-one keeper Andile Dlamini.
The players in the current team admit that it will be impossible to replace the quality of some unavailable stars, however, this could be a good opportunity for fringe players to prove their worth.
“I think it’s a little bit challenging because they left big shoes to fill but it’s a good opportunity for us and the younger players to step up, raise our hands and show that we can also play in those positions. Other than the fact that they are not here for us to learn from them, I think it’s a good opportunity for us to learn as well without them,” says Amogelang Motau.
This is part of Banyana Banyana’s preparations for their second FIFA Women’s World Cup in a row, after making their debut in France in 2019.
“I think it’s quite good that we are playing opponents like Australia. I think the coach made it clear that we need opponents that are going to challenge us and prepare us well for the World Cup and I think everyone is looking forward to it and I think we are looking forward to another learning curve, obviously getting better from the game that we played against Brazil, so I think that is good that we get to play such challenging opponents and we look forward to it. We have seen that they are a very tough team to play, especially with the speed that they bring and the experience that they bring. They have been to the World Cup and again I think it’s an opportunity for Banyana Banyana to rise to the standard and to use this opportunity to prepare for the World Cup as well,” says Motau.
The unavailability of regular keepers Andile Dlamini and Kaylin Swart has opened doors for third-choice keeper Regirl Ngobeni to get a rare start.
“Being one of the less experienced and also being able to be getting the opportunity now, I think it’s very exciting. I’m very happy as well, working with most experienced players as well, where they get to share their experience with them, also sharing the moments in the field so it’s very exciting,” says Ngobeni.
But the availability of Jermaine Seoposenwe and Linda Motlhalo could give Banyana Banyana much-needed experience.
“I think it’s very important also to test the team where it is at, where are we basically in terms of the preparations. It’s also important to boost our confidence and also as a team as well as an individual to be able to partake and competing with one of the best teams so it’s very important,” says Ngobeni.
South Africa will be one of the four African nations that will participate in the global football showpiece. The other three nations are Zambia, Nigeria, and Morocco. Next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Banyana prepares to play Australia in an away international friendly: