16 January 2019 – Captain of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Janine van Wyk, says they are ready for the tough year ahead.

The squad is in Cape Town to play two top international friendly matches as part of their preparations for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which kicks off in June in France.

South Africa will face The Netherlands on Saturday, 19 January 2019 – THE INAUGURAL WINNIE MANDELA INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE– at the Cape Town Stadium, a 2010 FIFA World Cup venue.

Kickoff is at 15h00.

Three days later (Tuesday, 22 January 2019) they will be up against Sweden at 19h00 –THE ALBERTINA SISULU CENTENARY CHALLENGE– at the same venue.

The Netherlands are ranked 7thin the world while Sweden is two spots down in 9thposition.

This is Banyana Banyana’s maiden World Cup tournament.

They have been working hard since their arrival in the Mother City on Wednesday, 9January, and are looking forward to the two fixtures.

“Camp is going really well. All the players are buzzing at training and ready for another tough year ahead. We know there is a lot of hard work to be done and what better test for us than playing top quality teams such as The Netherlands and Sweden,” said Van Wyk.

“We have come a long way and have grown so much in our game over the past year. I am pretty confident that it would be tough for opponents to break us down if we manage to stay on top of our game. The good thing is we have played and lost to both nations before, so we know what to expect. We could not have asked for such great start to our preparations in such an important year for women’s football. Whatever the outcome this time around, the main aim is to make sure we are ready for the tournament in June – and it all starts here and now.”

Banyana Banyana have a full compliment of players with the arrival of the Australia-based duo of Refiloe Jane and Rhoda Mulaudzi in camp, who have aleady attended their first training session.

The pair had to delay reporting for national team duty due to club commitments – they helped their club to a 1-0 victory on Sunday, 13 January before jetting off to join their compatriots in Cape Town.

Meanwhile the squad was given a tour of Parliament on Monday, 14 June where they got to learn about what happens in our of the most important venues in our country.

The Parliament of South Africa is South Africa‘s legislature and under the country’s current Constitution is composed of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. It has undergone many transformations as a result of the country’s tumultuous history. From 1910 to 1994, it was elected mainly by South Africa’s white minority, before the first democratic elections were held in 1994.

“Our visit to the Parliament was extraordinary. It is a day I will never forget, and I want to believe the players and everyone that went won’t.  There were many interesting facts that made me want to learn more about the History of our beautiful country,” added Van Wyk.

“You know you see all these things happening on your television set but don’t quite understand, and with this visit we got to hear what really takes place, why some things are done or not done – it was just mind-blowing. Next time I see this I will have a very different view. We have a very interesting history in our country and we got to understand much with this visit.”

On Saturday (12 January) Banyana Banyana visited another important landmark of South Africa – the Table Mountain.

“We have a very beautiful country with a very rich history and we can only appreciate just how previledged we are as a team to get a chance to visit these places, which we otherwise may not have gone to as individuals. We have learnt a lot over these past few days and it’s outings like these that take your mind off football just a little bit and you get to recharge your batteries in an education way. We really thank the opportunity and will not take this for granted,” said Van Wyk.

Entry is free to the two matches but fans have to collect tickets at Computicket, Shoprite and at Checkers to gain entry into the stadium.