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Wonder week ahead for Banyana Banyana

02 June 2016 - 11:59 By Nick Said

Banyana Banyana are preparing for one of the biggest weeks in their history that culminates in a clash with world champions USA at the famous Soldier Field stadium in Chicago next Thursday. Coach Vera Pauw's side first play a training game against the Netherlands behind closed doors on Saturday before a full international against the same opposition in Waalwijk on Tuesday.The Netherlands are the only major nation ever to play in South Africa and Pauw was still part of their line-up as a player when they toured in 2000.Banyana have the ingredients to become the bestIt might have been a tough draw in Rio de Janeiro for Banyana Banyana, but head coach Vera Pauw said she was thrilled at the prospect of her team meeting sides of the profile of hosts Brazil, Sweden and China. Banyana will fly out the day after the second match and face off against some of the biggest names in women’s football‚ including goalkeeper Hope Solo and midfielder Heather O'Reilly‚ who has won a staggering 229 caps.It will be a chance not just for Pauw’s team to tune up for August’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro‚ but also to be potentially spotted in a high-profile fixture and garner the interest of scouts from professional clubs all around the world who will have an eye on the game.Pauw recently told Times Media how she believed there were players in the Banyana Banyana squad who could play professionally overseas.SA get Brazil and Brazil in BrazilSouth Africa were drawn with hosts Brazil in both the men's and women's football competitions at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August. “I look at players that I know signing with clubs in Europe and in many instances I think‚ ‘but our players are better or would add more to the team’‚” Pauw said. “But you know‚ if people don’t see you‚ then they never get to know about you or they think you are a bit of a risk. And this is why the Olympics are so important for our players because this is where they can be noticed by clubs and hopefully get signed.“That would show thousands of women in South Africa that there is a future for them in the game where they can earn a living playing. That should attract more people to play and by growing our player pool‚ we should improve as a national team. It is very important.”Banyana will face Sweden‚ China and Brazil at the Rio Games‚ having shown their potential in London four years ago where they drew 0-0 with then world champions Japan.TMG Digital/TMG Sport..

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