Banyana Banyana, the national women’s soccer team is progressing well in their efforts to prepare for the African Women’s Championships, according to Fran Hilton-Smith, coach extraordinaire.
Having made it to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) tournament starting in Nigeria later this month, the national team is focussed on making it to the finals in order to qualify for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in China.
“We’re training at East Gate (Johannesburg),” Hilton-Smith told gsport today, “And we’re going to play a game against a boys’ team from the Transnet School of Excellence in Edenvale this afternoon.
Asked whether there are any injuries to key players, Hilton-Smith was positive: “Only a few niggly injuries, nothing that’s likely to last until our departure for Nigeria.
“We had a weekend off,” explained Hilton-Smith. “And a few players appeared for their home teams, picking up a few niggles, but nothing to worry about for Nigeria.”
The team has been in camp for some time in preparations for the African Women’s Champs in Nigeria, with particular emphasis on building upper-body strength to compliment the team’s on-field skills.
The women’s team’s first match is against Algeria on the 27th October, after which they play in a round-robin matches against the remaining pool sides, Equatorial Guinea and strong favourites Nigeria.
The team departs for Nigeria on October 24, with their first match against Algeria three days later.
“We’ve tried that before,” Hilton-Smith explained when asked whether any warm-up games have been scheduled after arrival in Nigeria.
“Our experience is that we’re usually played against mens’ teams, with extremely physical games, which tend to be counter-productive to our build-up objectives.”
“Michelle Cox is also out here on FIFA’s Community project to study leading federations, and is visiting our team on a mission to learn from the progress our team is making in promoting the women’s game,” said Hilton-Smith.