There is great excitement ahead of the senior South African women’s national soccer team’s Olympic debut tonight with Banyana Banyana up against Sweden, an experienced team that has played at every Women’s Olympic Football tournament to date.
South Africa’s most accomplish women’s sports commentator Duane Dell’Oca, a regular on SABC Sport, has the honour of commentating on the game for host broadcaster, the Olympic Broadcasting Services. Speaking to gsport from London, Dell’Oca shared his thoughts on the strength of the Sweden team.
“Sweden play a quick game, have solid passing, and have really strengthened under Thomas Dennerby. They had an excellent 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, finishing third and only losing to the eventual world champs, Japan, in the semi-finals. That tournament will surely have given Sweden the belief that they can beat anybody.
“Their goalkeeper, Hedvig Lindahl is a bit of a David “Calamity” James character. She has a few blunders, a selection of embarrassing moments every so often, but on her day is practically unbeatable. Lisa Dalqvist is a superb attacking midfielder and scored in every group game of the 2011 WWC,” said Dell’Oca.
“Veteran striker, Lotta Schelin’s quality is illustrated by her sheer number of appearances, over 100 caps. She is one of the world’s best players. And when she is not injured, Caroline Seger is a menace on the pitch.”
He added that Banyana Banyana has arguably drawn the toughest group, with Canada, Sweden and the reigning world champions, Japan.
“Canada is a very physical team, they enjoy playing a hard game and they score goals. Christine Sinclair is one of the best strikers in the world and even though her team finished behind USA in qualifying, she easily finished as top-scorer for Canada with 9 goals in only a handful of matches. Only three of our squad members have more than 9 career goals for Banyana Banyana.
“As for Japan, they are not world champions through sentiment. They are widely regarded as the most tactically-astute team in women’s football. They adapt to any style of play, have very quick wingers and know how to play a quick passing, possession game. They have a team in which any player on the pitch can score and they’re led by the world’s best player, Homare Sawa.
“You could argue that Japan’s only weaknesses is that they are very short, and lack the hard physical game of many European and North American teams. But they more than make up for that in other aspects of their game,” says Dell’Oca. “Just ask USA.”
He says that women’s football is different to the men’s game in that it is generally not as quick, and it is certainly less physical.
“But with the top teams, the game is often more tactical, there is an abundance of skill and the women are infinitely better from set pieces, like free kicks or corners, that any of the men’s teams. Perhaps most importantly, there is always less play-acting in the women’s game.”
The match kicks off at 20:45 (SA time) and will be live on SABC 1 and SuperSport.
This will be Dell’Oca’s third Olympic Games. He will mainly be commentating on football and handball. He has commentated on various women’s tournaments since 2004, including three Sasol League national play-offs, two African Women’s Championships, two All Africa Games, one Youth Women’s World Cup, one Women’s World Cup, various Women’s World Cup qualifiers, African Women’s championship qualifiers and several friendly internationals.
Olympic Games Women’s Football Group F (SA fixtures): 25 July – 20h00: RSA vs Sweden (Coventry, England) 28 July – 15h45: RSA vs Canada (Coventry, England) 31 July – 15h30: RSA vs Japan (Cardiff, Wales) Banyana Banyana Squad: (No. – Pos. – Name) 14 – FW – Sanah Molo 10 – MF – Mary Ntsweng 5 – DF – Janine van Wyk 3 – DF – Nothando Vilakazi 6 – DF – Zamandosi Cele 18 – GK – Thokozile Mndaweni 4 – DF – Amanda Sister 9 – MF – Amanda Dlamini 11 – FW – Noko Matlou 13 – MF – Gabisile Hlumbani 17 – FW – Andisiwe Mgcoyi 8 – MF – Kylie-Ann Louw 7 – FW – Leandra Smeda 2 – MF – Robyn Moodaly 1 – GK – Roxanne Barker 16 – MF – Nompumelelo Nyandeni 15 – DF – Refiloe Jane 12 – FW – Portia Modise Sweden Squad: 17 – DF – LEVENSTAD M 13 – DF – NILSSON L 12 – MF – HAMMARSTROM M 11 – MF – GORANSSON A 18 – GK – LUNDGREN S 8 – FW – SCHELIN L 4 – DF – SVENSSON A 3 – DF – BERGLUND E 5 – MF – FISCHER N 14 – MF – ALMGREN J 6 – DF – THUNEBRO S 7 – MF – DAHLKVIST L 10 – FW – JAKOBSSON S 15 – MF – SEGER C 2 – DF – SEMBRANT L 16 – FW – EDLUND M 1 – GK – LINDAHL H 9 – MF – ASLLANI K