Banyana Banyana are aiming for strong display against the Netherlands
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DURBAN - Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis is excited ahead of her team’s friendly international against the Netherlands in Zwolle, Netherlands on Saturday afternoon.
“We are grateful to be playing against the World Cup finalists, number three team in the world and a side which will be one of the favourites to win the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics,” said the national women’s team coach.
“It’s an opportunity to challenge ourselves at the highest level. We have to make sure that we challenge ourselves and don’t leave any stone unturned ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.”
While the Banyana squad for the upcoming game is a strong one which contains a balance of youth and experience, it will be minus the likes of AC Milan star Refiloe Jane and Spain-based Nothando Vilakazi.
There is a good balance of youth and experience with experienced campaigners Janine van Wyk and Noko Matlou in the squad that will present up and coming youngsters such as Sibulele Holweni and Bongeka Gamede with a good opportunity to learn as they are slowly integrated into the core of the team.
Banyana were defeated 2-1 by the Netherlands when the teams last clashed in a friendly international in January 2019 at Cape Town Stadium.
They will not be the favourites to beat the Dutch, who will be expected to use the game to experiment and warm up ahead of their Olympics quest where they will be looking to upset pre-tournament favourites, the USA.
Speaking ahead of the game, Ellis even conceded that fitness levels within the South African squad were not at an ideal level.
“We have worked with a lot of players over the last few months and they will now have an opportunity to play against strong opposition for the first time and test themselves.
“We are hoping that the experience of the players playing abroad will elevate the performances to another level.“Physically, we are not where want to be but this is through no fault of our own.
“I must admit that the club coaches in the Sasol League and Hollywoodbets Super League have done a fantastic job. There is a difference compared to the April camp as the fitness has increased,” said Ellis.
Banyana enter the game in good form having won their last two consecutive games against southern African rivals Zambia and Botswana, and this should give them the confidence that they need to be competitive against the Dutch.