Banyana, SA U-23 wrap up Rio prep

Banyana

The two South African sides depart on Saturday, 23 July as Team South Africa under the banner of SASCOC.

“It has been a very long and hard journey for all of us when we started camp back in November last year, now we can’t wait to get to Brazil for the start of competition,” Banyana coach Vera Pauw says. “I must admit we have had one of the best preparations where we faced, amongst others, the world’s top ranked national team, the USA – what more can we ask for?

“We have to thank SAFA for all the efforts in making sure we are well prepared for the Olympics, not forgetting our proud sponsors Sasol and our partner National Lotteries Commission for travelling the journey with us, we can never thank you enough.”

“What remains now is for us to get to Rio and round off preparations with our last friendly match against New Zealand. I am happy with the progress we have made, and the players are in a good condition. This week we changed our programme to start adapting to the Brazilian times and we are getting used to it, which means there won’t be much of a struggle to adapt. We will do our best and ensure we fly the flag high.”

Banyana Banyana will face New Zealand on Thursday, 28 July in Rio.

The SA U-23 travelled to Brazil for an international friendly match, won the 2016 COSAFA Cup in Namibia and then faced Japan to get ready for the competition, with coach Owen da Gama happy with his side’s build up to the Rio Games.

“We are fortunate enough that our players are playing professional football and they have been able to keep in shape even long after the end of the season,” he says. “We also have to thank SAFA for allowing us to play in the COSAFA Cup as well as all the partners – like the National Lotteries Commission, who supported us with our preparations.

“I believe we have selected a team strong enough to hold their own anywhere and against anyone and we are eagerly looking forward to the opening match against the hosts which will determine our way forward. I remain confident that we will do well.”

The SA U-23 team is in the same group as Brazil, Denmark and Iraq, and face the hosts in their tournament opener on 4 August.

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Grab the latest edition of KICK OFF magazine - on shelves now - where we discuss South Africa Under-23's and Banyana Banyana's Rio Olympics chances as the team jets off to Brazil.

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