Interim Banyana coach Desiree Ellis is focusing on the benefits of the match against Sweden on Sunday. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – The South African national women’s football team have a tough assignment in an international friendly against Sweden at Cape Town Stadium on Sunday (2pm kickoff), but interim coach Desiree Ellis is focusing on the benefits the occasion provides.

With Banyana Banyana looking ahead to the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations and the aim of qualifying for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup, games against top class, high-profile teams like Sweden are vital in preparing the team. Sweden are ranked 10th in the world and fifth in Europe.

The SA side has been hit by the retirement of captain Amanda Dlamini, but Ellis still has the US-based quartet of Kaylin Swart, Jermaine Seoposenwe, Amogelang Motau and Kelso Peskin to rely on.

“This year there is an opportunity to qualify for the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations and we are aware that it also doubles up as a qualifier for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup,” said Ellis. “Our target is to win the 2018 AWCON because any team going to a tournament wants to win it, and we are no different. But if we fall short, then we want to make sure we get one of those three spots available for qualification. For now, though, the focus is on the Sweden game, so this is great preparation so early in the year.

“Our last match was against Burkina Faso, but now it’s full steam ahead for a very big year. The level of the game and pressure will be much higher than some of the players have faced before.

“But it’s also a way of measuring where we are as a team and as individuals, and also what we still need to do to be a well-oiled team.”

Cosafa champions Banyana will be meeting Sweden for the third time on Sunday. The Swedes won both previous meetings - the first a 4-1 success at the London Olympics and the second a 1-0 victory at the Rio Games.

IOL Sport

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