After a week-long training camp, Banyana Banyana are relishing the challenge of the 2015 African Games which will take place in Brazzaville, Congo from 3 – 18 September.

After a week-long training camp, Banyana Banyana are relishing the challenge of the 2015 African Games which will take place in Brazzaville, Congo from 3 – 18 September.

On Saturday, 29 August Vera Pauw’s charges will join Team South Africa under the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and are expected to depart for Brazzaville on Wednesday, 2 September.

The South Africans continued their preparations with two matches on Friday, 28 August against the U17 team from the School of Excellence.

Pauw used two teams for the matches – winning the first one 2-0 in the morning and going down 4-0 in the second in the afternoon.

“It was good preparation for us, we always want to test how far the players are in terms of readiness. Now we know what to do in the remaining days before we start with the competition. I am happy with the overall exercise as it also helped with our sharpness and our movements,” said Pauw.

The matches took place at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto.

The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana will continue with their preparations, most likely in Bedfordview, until their departure.

“We are going to there to compete, we are in a tough group with Cameroon and Ghana, and we all know that Egypt has withdrawn. Cameroon are the defending champions, Ghana is ranked higher than we are so we have to work very hard for a positive result. As they say there is always a silver lining in the clouds, the two matches give us the perfect vehicle to get ready for the Equatorial Guinea in October so at the end of the day it is a fantastic opportunity for us to have such a great preparation,” said Pauw.

The players are also looking forward to the challenge.

“I have played the two countries before, but it was a long time ago when I was in the U20 National Team, so we more or less know what to expect. What we are certain of is that they are no pushovers and we have to bring our A-game if we want to progress to the semi-finals. Another driving factor for us is that it will be preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games qualifier against Equatorial Guinea and that will surely give us the much-needed boost to do well because we don’t want to return with our heads down going into that all-important qualifier,” said captain Janine van Wyk.

Banyana Banyana start the games with a tricky encounter against Cameroon on Monday, 7 September. The second match will see Pauw’s charges coming up against Ghana on Thursday, 10 September.

Both clashes will be played at the Stade de l’unite 3, and kickoff at 17h00 local time in Brazzaville (18h00 SA Time).

Congo, Nigeria, Tanzania and Ivory Coast are in Group A.

The top two teams in each group at the end of the Group Stage of the tournament qualify for the knock out stages will be played on Tuesday, 15 September.
The final is scheduled for Sunday, 18 September.

Meanwhile Team SA will be represented in 15 of the 22 sporting codes at the games – and these include badminton, boxing, cycling, fencing, football, gymnastics, judo, karate, swimming, table tennis, volleyball, powerlifting and wrestling.

Previously known as All Africa games, the African Games is an important multi-code event and the highest pinnacle of continental games held every four years – one year before the Olympic Games.

The first African Games were held in 1965 in Brazzaville, Congo, and this means the hosts will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of this event.

Last month, in a statement SASCOC CEO Tubby Reddy had this to say:

“We congratulate the athletes that have been selected to participate in these renowned games as they have met the eligible criteria set by the International Federations to participate in African Games. We believe in your capabilities and may you do the country proud.”

SASCOC President Gideon Sam echoed his words:

“Considering that it’s just about a year ahead of the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, our top sportsmen and women should need little reminding that this is the perfect opportunity to put their hands up and let us see just what they are made of,” he said also in the same statement.