Jermaine Seoposenwe: Banyana need to realise what Olympic dream is all about

Banyana Banyana midfielder Jermaine Seoposenwe passes the ball during an international friendly against the United States.

Banyana Banyana midfielder Jermaine Seoposenwe. Picture: Jason Mowry / Getty Images via AFP

Published Feb 22, 2024


Banyana Banyana’s journey to booking a place at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris later this year will gather momentum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, tomorrow.

The South African national women’s team reached the third round of CAF’s Olympic qualifiers and will play Tanzania over two legs.

Tomorrow’s first-leg clash at the Azam Complex Stadium (3pm kickoff, SA time) will be followed by a second-leg encounter at the Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga next Tuesday (7.30pm).

The squad arrived in Tanzania on Monday, but a few overseas-based players such as Jermaine Seoposenwe, Linda Motlhalo and Noko Matlou joined up with the team on Tuesday, while Hildah Magaia was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.

Stalwart Seoposenwe, who plays for Monterrey FC in Mexico, said that since the national squad had undergone several changes, the new players must be integrated into the team.

Speedy striker Seoposenwe has more than 90 caps, and if the team qualifies for the Olympics, she could reach the 100-cap milestone in Paris.

The Banyana squad will be determined to make it to France, after failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 – especially after their remarkable performance at last year’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, where they became the first senior SA team to reach the knockout rounds.

“Like the other players in the squad, I am happy to resume our journey to reach the Olympics,” said Seoposenwe.

“Friday’s match is very important because it will be our first match this year. It’s all very exciting to be back in action as the national team.

“There are a few new players, and I’m happy for them. We will have a chance to (get to) know each other as the process of integrating the new players unfolds.

“The successful integration will ensure that every player knows how we want to play. We must be sure that everyone is aware of the responsibilities of a national team player.

“There has to be an awareness of what it means to represent the country at the Olympic Games.”

Seoposenwe said Banyana are highly regarded in Africa, even though they are not ranked No 1 on the continent. That honour belongs to Nigeria, but South Africa are the reigning champions of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon). South Africa beat the Democratic Republic of the Congo 3-1 on aggregate over two legs in the second round of the Olympic qualifiers in October.

There will be 12 footballing nations battling it out in Paris in a bid to win an Olympic medal, and CAF will be represented by two countries.

Banyana were last in action in early December, when they beat Burkina Faso 3-1 on aggregate to qualify for this year’s Wafcon in Morocco.

“We must reach a stage where we make sure we qualify for all the major tournaments, even though we will be tested every year,” Seoposenwe said.

“Playing all the major tournaments is very important for the development and growth of the team. The players need to gain experience of playing in big tournaments.

“We want to return to South Africa with a great result under our belts ahead of the second leg next week.”

Midfielder Thalea Smidt added in conversation with the Safa media department: “I would say the Olympics are on every player’s list, and it’s important to focus on this first-leg game against Tanzania.