The team assembled for camp on Monday, 6 April and has already held training sessions at the AW Muller Stadium at the University of Johannesburg.
The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana welcome the Zebras of Botswana on Saturday, 11 April 2015 at the Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto. Kickoff is at 14h00.
The South Africans have a 1-0 lead from the first leg played at the Molepolole Stadium on the outskirts of Gaborone, Botswana, with a goal scored by Sanah Mollo. If at the end of the match there is not clear winner (like if Botswana wins 1-0), they will go straight to penalties to decide which side will qualify for the 2015 All Africa Games which will be held in Congo Brazzaville from 03 - 18 September.
SAFA Media sat down with Vera Pauw to talk about preparations for the Botswana clash and a work visit she undertook to the Free State this past weekend.
Matlhomola Morake: Had a busy Easter Weekend, what was happening?
Vera Pauw: We went to Bloemfontein at the USSA (University Sport South Africa) team selection camp for women, where 45 players were involved in the selection camp because in June/July they are playing in the World Student Games in Korea and they had to come up with the final 18 for that tournament, so we went over because in one weekend we were able to see the major student talent that was playing there. And then we moved to Bethlehem to see a Sasol League game between Bloemfontein Celtic and a Bethlehem select side.
MM: How important was that visit?
VP: The Student Games selection most certainly for the younger teams as we did not, unfortunately, see major talent for Banyana Banyana but surely we have made of younger players for the U20 and a few for U17 squads. At the Sasol League game we saw two players who have a lot of potential and could help in the future. These are good visits because current Banyana Banyana striker Shiwe Nogwanya was discovered in the Sasol League. On the other hand the visit reminded us of the huge gap and difference between the Sasol League and Banyana Banyana, so apart from scouting for talent it is always important to see the level where our girls come from and what we need to do to get them to international level.
MM: You say no Banyana Banyana players for now, but some youngsters and this is encouraging for the future….
VP: Yes, and that it is extremely important not only for USSA but also for us. In one weekend we were able to see 45 players, not an ideal situation but then again the way it is structured in South Africa you hardly get a national championship of different age groups so this was a major opportunity for us and I am glad we undertook the trip.
MM: Coming to the current camp ahead of the Botswana clash, how are things going?
VP: Very well, according to plan. I am also happy we could bring in Thembi Kgatlana and Mamello Makhabane (both are back from injury) so we could assess them, see if they can catch up this week and maybe play on Saturday. And that is the reason we have 20 players in camp even though we will need only 18 for the qualifier against Botswana. So we still have a chance to have a good look at the two players, and the rest of the team, to decide on the final squad for the match, and the decision on the last 18 will be made later in the week, possibly on Friday.
MM: You have also been bringing other players into training who are not part of the squad like Andisile Dlamini, Nothemba, Disebo and Rhoda, any reason for that?
VP: For those players it is important for them not to get left behind and keep up to our level. These are players from the core group of Banyana Banyana and it is important that they are not too far behind in terms of progress. It also helps us to prepare well because we have the correct numbers at training like when we want to play 11 v 11. We also have guest players to fill up the numbers when we can’t have players from the core group, and I hope that also helps with their development and inspires them to aim higher.
MM: Talking about preparation, in the first leg things we not ideal, but it seems for the second leg everything is on track…..
VP: I am very glad that we have five days to prepare for this match. You can also see that players are from different backgrounds in terms of fitness and some are far overloaded – Shiwe played a full game on Sunday, and then came to camp. So it takes a while for us to get her to get ready to play again. But on the other hand some players are under loaded, so they have to get extra training so we have different programmes that we use to achieve our goal. I hope tomorrow (Thursday) everybody will be on the same level.
MM: We have played Botswana before, we played them again in the first leg away, what can we expect this Saturday?
VP: When we played them before they were out of training (Banyana Banyana won 4-0), so they just came to honour a fixture, which was an all-expenses paid trip. But now they have been in camp a month and half and you can see the huge difference. Now they are fit and strong, they have shown us in the first leg that if we don’t prepare well they can be tough opposition so we have to be sharper. I have seen the difference at training from my players already and I believe we will have a good performance on Saturday. I am confident of getting a victory.
NB: The Banyana Banyana vs Botswana qualifier is part of a double header. In the other match the South African U23 National Team will play Sudan in the return leg of the same All Africa Games qualifiers. South Africa lost the first leg 2-0 in Sudan. Kickoff is at 16h00.
(Full Banyana Banyana squad list below)
BANYANA BANYANA SQUAD LIST VS BOTSWANA