The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana squad wasted no time in getting down to business as soon as they landed in Saint-Denis, Reunion Islands.
The South Africans arrived on the island late afternoon on Thursday, 19 January 2017 and was welcome by a group of young dancers at Aéroport de la Réunion Roland Garros (Roland Garros Airport).
Banyana Banyana is in La Reunion to face their French counterparts in an international friendly match on Sunday, 22 January 2017 at the eight-thousand-seater Stade Jean-Ivoula (otherwise known on the streets of Reunion as Stade de L’est).
Kickoff is at 19h00.
They held a light training session just to loosen up the muscles.
“It was a wonderful welcome, they really made us feel like home away from home. But then again we are here for football, and it is always great to come to a football-mad country where the interest is very high on the game,” said Banyana Banyana striker Jermaine Seoposenwe.
“As we are playing a tough opponent, we need to play as a unit, more so because we are not that match fit seeing that we have just returned from the festive season break. They will test us from every aspect of the game and we have to be ready for it, and that is why it was important for us to have the light training session so we can back into the routine. But we will go out there on Sunday and do our best.”
The team will have another training session tonight (21h00), with the final run scheduled for the match venue on Saturday (21 January) night.
The encounter on Sunday is the first of the year for both teams – the French Women’s National Team arrived in Reunion on Wednesday, 18 January.
“This is the start of the journey for us in qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in 2019, and also the 2018 CAF Women Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Ghana – the clash against France is a clear indication that preparations are already on the go for those two major events. We really appreciate what SAFA and our proud sponsor SASOL, are doing to ensure that we are ready when we start with the qualifiers of both tournaments,” said midfielder Refiloe Jane.
“As for the clash against France, it will not be an easy one but we have proven before that the stronger they come the better we are also in our play. I am confident that despite their experience we also have our strong points which we need to make use of to come out on top on the day.”
Meanwhile Leandra Smeda sat out the training session in La Reunion. She limped off the final training session before the squad departed for Saint-Denis. Smeda is recovering well but it is not clear when she will be back on the field to join her compatriots.