19 December 2018 – Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana will play no fewer than seven matches against international opposition in preparation for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup that takes place in France from 7 June to 7 July.

First up in the new year will be Sweden in a practice match (17 January) behind closed doors, followed by an international friendly clash against the Netherlands two days later (19 January) in the inaugural Winnie-Madikizela Mandela Challenge at the Cape Town Stadium – this in honour of the late struggle icon. Kickoff is at 15h00.

Sweden will return for a full international on Tuesday, 22 January, scheduled to kick off at 19h00.

After a short break, the South African Senior Women’s National Team will head to Europe to take part in the annual Cyprus Women’s Cup, scheduled to be played from 25 February to 7 March.

Banyana Banyana have been drawn in Group A of the 12-nation tournament – they will face Czech Republic, Finland and Korea DPR.

South Africa finished in sixth place earlier this year – their best ever in the competition.

Also participating in the tournament is World Cup-bound Nigeria (making their debut), who are in Group C against Austria, Belgium and Slovakia.

The others countries are Hungary, Mexico, Italy and Thailand (debutants).

Nine of the teams in the 2019 edition make a return from this year’s tournament – South Africa, Czech Republic, Korea DPR, Hungary, Slovakia, Belgium, Italy and Austria.

Thailand and Italy will join Banyana Banyana and Nigeria at the World Cup in France.

The next assignment for Desiree Ellis’ charges will be away to reigning world champions, the USA.

The fixture is set for 12 May in Santa Clara, California, and this will be followed by the World Cup tournament.

South Africa will kick start the competition with a fixture against Spain on 8 June in Le Havre. This will be followed by China PR five days later (13 June) in Paris, while the last group stages match will be against Germany on 17 June in Montpellier.

“Everyone says we are in a tough group at the World Cup, which is true, but then again, no one said it can’t be done. The players, as well as the technical team, will gain invaluable experience with the matches lined-up for our preparation. I can only thank SAFA and our proud sponsor Sasol for all the support they have given this team.”

The former Banyana Banyana captain is particularly impressed by the quality of the opposition ahead of the France tournament, which falls in line with the required preparation.

“What more can we ask for? I am just in awe of the programme we have in front of us. What we are looking at are confirmed seven world-class preparation matches against top-class opposition – and this is exactly in line with how things will be like at the World Cup. And also, depending on how we fare at the Cyprus Cup, we may just add another match,” added Ellis.

“Three of the sides are in the top ten in terms of world rankings (USA – 1, Netherlands – 7, Sweden – 9), then you have Korea DPR, which will give us a taste of what to expect in France when we face China PR, while the others will give an indication of what Spain and Germany have to offer at the World Cup. This is just what the doctor ordered – good preparation, which needs to be followed by perfect execution at the tournament. I am looking forward to the new year with great anticipation and full of hope.”

Banyana Banyana will assemble for their training camp in Cape on 9 January 2019.

 

Banyana Banyana Confirmed Fixtures (2019):

 

  • 17 January: vs Sweden

Cape Town (closed-door training match)

 

  • 19 January: vs Netherlands

Cape Town (Winnie Madikizela–Mandela Inauguration Challenge)

 

  • 22 January: vs Sweden

Cape Town (International friendly)

 

  • 25 February – 7 March: vs Czech Republic

(Cyprus Cup)

 

  • 25 February – 7 March: vs Finland

(Cyprus Cup)

 

  • 25 February – 7 March: vs Korea DPR

(Cyprus Cup)

 

  • 12 May: vs USA

California (International friendly)

 

  • 8 June: vs Spain

France (FIFA Women’s World Cup)

 

  • 13 June: vs China PR

France (FIFA Women’s World Cup)

 

  • 17 June: vs Germany

France (FIFA Women’s World Cup)

 

Cyprus Women’s Cup Groupings:

Group A

– Czech Republic, Finland, Korea DPR, South Africa

Group B

– Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Thailand

Group C

– Austria, Belgium, Nigeria, Slovakia

 

Rankings:

Sweden:                             9

Netherlands:                       7

Czech Republic:                 31

Finland:                              28

Korea DPR:                        11

USA:                                   1

South Africa:                       48 (3rdon the continent)

 

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