BANYANA Banyana head coach Joseph Mkhonza is positive that they will try and make the country proud in the forthcoming 2012 London Olympic Games due in July despite being drawn against the world’ strong opponents.
Mkhonza was speaking from London were he attended the draw was conducted which will see Banyana who are ranked number 65 in the world taking on tough opponents in Group F such as the current FIFA Women’s World Cup winners, Japan, Canada and Sweden.
All their opponents in the group matches are very strong and are ranked in the top 10 in the world ranking with. The first match will be on July 25 in Coventry against Sweden who is ranked number 5, then against Canada (ranked 7th) on July 27 in the same city before they could wrap their group matches against the defending champions, Japan in Cardiff on July 31.
“We are humbled to be here as this is a very historic day for us as South Africans as we have been drawn against some high profile teams,” said Mkhonza.
Mkhonza added: “It will not be an easy task for us so we need to step up preparations to ensure that we’re ready to compete against these three countries, but as you know the game of football can be very unpredictable and this all depends on how a team performs on the day. We are very optimistic given the fact that, thanks to Sasol and SAFA, we’ve been having various training camps since the beginning of the year to ensure that we make our presence felt coming to the Olympics as we look to promote women’s football in South Africa.”
Banyana skipper, Amanda Dlamini, was equally optimistic about the draw, saying: “Drawing World Cup champions Japan in our group…… well, it doesn’t come much more challenging than that, but we are a highly competitive unit and will give it our all to make all those who have been supporting us, including the football fans in South Africa and across the African continent proud. It’s a dream come true for Banyana Banyana to be a part of Team SA at the Olympics and I can assure you that the players will be working harder than ever in training in the hope of being among the 18 athletes who will get the chance to compete in London.”