Banyana in high spirits for Olympics
17 July 2012
South Africa's national women's football team, Banyana Banyana, returns to the country on Tuesday after a pre-Olympics tour of Europe in which they played two matches, winning one and losing one.
In their first outing, against German Premier League side Bayer Leverkusen last Thursday, Banyana won 3-1, with captain Amanda Dlamini, Portia Modise, and Sanah Mollo all finding the back of the net.
They faced Olympics hosts, Great Britain, a team comprised of players from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in Birmingham on Sunday and went down 3-1, with Russia-based midfielder Nompumelelo Nyandeni scoring for South Africa.
Despite the loss, the squad is reportedly in high spirits and set to work on the lessons they learnt on tour before they depart for the Olympic Games.
Coach Joseph Mkhonza told the South African Football Association (Safa): "It's unfortunate that we went down to Great Britain before the start of a major tournament, but we remain optimistic that we will play our hearts out when the Games begin next week."
Commenting on the value of the tour, he added: "It was a good exercise in that it has given us an indication of what to expect in London, and we are under no illusions that we will have to fight hard."
Focusing on the team's preparations, he said: "We should now use the time we have to prepare ourselves mentally as we now know what lies ahead.
"The defeat hasn't damped our spirits, and we still believe we will be highly competitive against the top women's football nations, and make our country proud.
"The players should now be able to build from their last encounter and focus on doing well in the upcoming tournament."
South Africa is in Group F at the Olympics, which is recognised as the toughest of the three groups in the 12-team competition.
Banyana's first match will be against world number four Sweden in Coventry on 25 July. They take on world number seven Canada on 27 July, also in Coventry, and then 2011 World Cup winners, Japan, ranked third in the world, in Cardiff on 31 July.
The other African representative at the Olympics, Cameroon, is in Group E and faces Great Britain, New Zealand and Brazil.
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