Qualification for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is top priority for Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini, as she prepares to lead her team at the upcoming African Women’s Championships, but she knows it won’t be an easy competition.
“Well, it’s going to be very tough, this will be our toughest competition because a lot of people have seen that we’ve qualified, have seen us participate, and they’ve planned for us, because they’ve had an opportunity to watch us.
“So, for us, we’ve just got to stick to our game-plan, and be humble. But there are lot of people, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana will be there, we’ll be competing with Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia, who gave us a tough time when we were qualifying for the Olympics. We’ll look to keep the discipline, keep focussed and be humble, and eventually just qualify for the World Cup.”
Dlamini, who was speaking at Tuesday’s launch of South African Football Association’s unveiling of Energade as its official sports drink for the next three years, said she was excited about the new partnership.
The sponsorship will see Energade become the official sports drink of all national teams under SAFA, which means quenching the thirst of Banyana Banyana, who each enter the race for continental glory over the next few months.
“I’m very excited about the partnership with Energade, but we’ve also got to realise that Banyana Banyana also deserves these sorts of sponsorships. For me, I always take Energade and Energade Jellies, you know, you have to keep your pack of sweets,” Dlamini laughs. “So, I usually take it before my warm-up and before we play, it really helps me a lot.”
Her advice to up and coming athletes: “When you get it, take your chance. Make sure you’re prepared, exercise harder, and for energy, Energade is a South African brand, and it is so easy to have, no preparation required, you just open it and have it.”
Dlamini also reflected on Banyana Banyana’s performance at the London Olympic Games, which saw them end their campaign by holding World Champions Japan to a goalless draw.
“Obviously we’re disappointed that we couldn’t make it to the second round, but in terms of performance, we only got stronger with every game that we played. It was just a bit disappointing that we were knocked out.”
The Banyana Banyana captain has come a long way since first kicking a soccer ball as a young girl.
“Well, I got into football at the age of 11, my youngest cousin played football, and he invited me to tag along.” When the team found themselves a player short, Dlamini was invited to take to the field. “I expected to be put in goals, where the most inexperienced player is generally sent, but, to my surprise, they asked me to play right wing! That’s how I started! Eventually, I was the one who was tops at goals.
“In Grade 9, that’s when physically and mentally I thought I stood a good chance, I can do something I enjoy.”
Having represented her country at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and standing on the cusp of potential qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the unassuming national women’s captain Dlamini presents herself as a sponsor’s dream, and SAFA will be well-advised to make sure that her ample talent is applied to the development of women’s soccer.
But for now, her attention will be all about leading her team to on the field in national colours. The African Women’s Championships take place in Equatorial Guinea from 28 October-3 November, with the proud SA side opening their AWC quest against hosts Equatorial Guinea on 28 October.
2012 Banyana Banyana AWC Group A Fixtures: 28 Oct: Equatorial Guinea vs Banyana Banyana 31 Oct: Banyana Banyana vs Senegal 3 Nov: Banyana Banyana vs DR Congo