Ultimate test for Banyana in USA in World Cup dress rehearsal

11 May 2019 - 12:48 By Mark Gleeson
Banyana Banyana players train at the Santa Clara University in California as they prepare for the battle against the USA.
Banyana Banyana players train at the Santa Clara University in California as they prepare for the battle against the USA.
Image: Banyana Banyana/Twitter

Banyana Banyana will be hoping not to be at the end of a morale-sapping lashing when they take on defending world champions the USA away in California on Sunday‚ without several key players and already outgunned in terms of experience and achievement.

It is the penultimate warm-up international for Desiree’s Ellis team‚ who next month make their Fifa Women’s World Cup debut in France.

They took 31 hours to get to Santa Clara‚ including a 10-hour layover in New York‚ although Banyana captain Janine van Wyk tried to take some positives from it.

“It was indeed a long travel‚ and after a good night’s rest we are getting down to business because we know the task at hand‚” she said.

“We are playing a well-polished team in the form of the USA and we need to be at our best as this is our penultimate match before we kick off the World Cup.”

“The good thing about the long and heavy travel is that it is preparing us for the rigorous experience that we will be facing in France – even though it will not be at this scale – but it is just a taste of what is to come‚ and we are glad we went through it.”

South Africa are without Linda Motlhalo‚ Thembi Kgatlana and Leandra Smeda due to club commitments but Ellis can pick the foreign-based quartet of Ode Fuludutilu (Spain)‚ Nomvula Kgoale (USA)‚ Jermaine Seopsenwe and Nothando Vilakazi (both Lithuania).

They all met up with their teammates in the United States to increase the squad size to 23.

Banyana go into the match without a win in their last eight outings and have one more game before the kickoff of the World Cup.

They will take on Norway‚ another former World Cup winner‚ in Amiens‚ France on Sunday‚ June 2.

Their opening World Cup game is against Spain in Le Havre on June 8. They will also meet China and Germany in their opening round group.

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