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Banyana Banyana take on top-ranked US in Chicago
- Updated: May 27, 2016
Banyana Banyana will face the United States women’s football team for the first time everin an international friendly match as part of their preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Vera Pauw’s side and the Stars and Stripes will meet on 9 July at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois (7pm local time).
The USA are the top-ranked team in women’s football and are also current world champions.
Coach Pauw says her team could not have asked for stronger opposition to prepare for the Olympics. ‘What else can you wish for than playing the world champions in your final preparation for the Olympics?
‘It is absolutely amazing and we are thrilled to play them. Of course it will be very difficult and we might suffer a big defeat but it doesn’t really matter as I believe it is better to go through that now than at the Olympics.
‘And it is the only way to be ready for the difficult battles we will encounter in Rio. These players have never experienced such opposition so it is amazing. I would also like to say thanks to the USA for agreeing to play us,’ said Pauw.
The match against the USA will the first meeting between the two countries in women’s football and will also mark just the second African country that has faced the USA in its history. The Americans have played Nigeria four times in World Cup or Olympic competition.
USA head coach Jill Ellis said playing Banyana Banyana was a thrilling prospect.
‘We are very excited to play a country that we have never faced before as we will get another team that will be competing in the Olympics. We are going to really embrace this opportunity to play in front of our home fans before we go to Brazil,’ said USA head coach Jill Ellis.
The President of the South African Football Association (SAFA), Dr Danny Jordaan is excited that they managed to clinch the deal to play against the Americans.
‘To be the best you must play the best; they don’t come bigger than the USA. What else can we ask for? We want to give our team the best preparation we can and will do everything in our power to ensure that they are fully prepared for the Rio Olympics.
‘I would also like to convey our greatest gratitude to our proud sponsor Sasol for making this friendly possible. We are proud to have such partners,’ said Dr Jordaan.
‘As Sasol we are proud to be the company that is at the forefront of empowering Women’s Football and recently launched a campaign – Celebrating Heroes – to rally the nation behind the team in the lead up to the Olympics. The Olympics is the greatest showcase of sporting events and we as their sponsor, stand behind the team all the way,’ said Elton Fortuin, Sasol vice-president: Communications and Brand Management.
The South Africa-USA encounter comes hot on the heels of another high profile assignment – back-to-back clashes against The Netherlands, taking place on 4 June and 7 June in Holland.
‘We played Cameroon first, then we followed up with Botswana in the African Women Championship qualifiers. Not so long ago we faced Zimbabwe in another tough match, and coming up now are top games against The Netherlands – which will help us a lot – next is a game that is perhaps at the highest level you can think of – against the USA. We still have another international match before the start of the Games so I am happy with our programme,’ added Pauw.
Since the beginning of 2016, the USA have won all their 11 matches they played.
Their last loss was 1-0 against the Peoples Republic of China in an international friendly in December 2015.
The USA have never lost in Chicago – home of the US Soccer Federation headquarters.
The USA are in Group G at the Olympics together with New Zealand, France and Colombia.
South Africa are in Group E alongside Brazil, China and Sweden.