JOHANNESBURG – In preparation for Banyana Banyana’s first-ever participation at a World Cup, the team will play no fewer than seven matches against international opposition.
The 2019 Women’s World Cup takes place in France from June 7 to July 7.
First up in the new year will be Sweden in a practice match (January 17), which will be played behind closed doors.
This will be followed by an international friendly clash against the Netherlands two days later (January 19) in the inaugural Winnie-Madikizela Mandela Challenge at the Cape Town Stadium.
Sweden will then return for a full international on January 22.
After a short break, Banyana head to Europe to take part in the annual Cyprus Women’s Cup, scheduled to be played from February 25 to March 7.
In the 12-nation tournament, the SA women’s side has been drawn in Group A, alongside Czech Republic, Finland and Korea DPR.
After that, the next assignment for coach Desiree Ellis and her Banyana team will be an away friendly against reigning world champions, the USA.
The fixture is set for May 12 in Santa Clara, California, and this will be followed by the World Cup tournament, where Banyana have been drawn to face Spain, China PR and Germany.
“Everyone says we are in a tough group at the World Cup, which is true, but then again, no one said it can’t be done,” said Ellis.
“The players, as well as the technical team, will gain invaluable experience with the matches lined-up for our preparation. I can only thank SAFA and our proud sponsor Sasol for all the support they have given this team.”
The former Banyana captain is particularly impressed by the quality of the opposition ahead of the France tournament, which falls in line with the required preparation.
“What more can we ask for? I am just in awe of the programme we have in front of us.
“What we are looking at are confirmed seven world-class preparation matches against top-class opposition – and this is exactly in line with how things will be like at the World Cup.”
Banyana will assemble for their training camp in Cape Town on January 9.
African News Agency (ANA)