18 January 2019– Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana have completed their preparations for the international friendly match against the Netherlands – named the Winnie Mandela International Challenge in honour of the late struggle icon.

The match takes place on Saturday, 19 January 2019 at the Cape Town Stadium.

Kickoff is at 15h00.

This is South Africa’s first match since losing on penalties to Nigeria in the final of the Women’s AFCON early in December 2018 in Ghana.

The clash against the Netherlands serves as part of preparations for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which takes place in June in France.

The host nation has been in the Mother City since Wednesday, 9 January and all 26 players have reported a clean bill of health.

This is a chance for head coach Desiree Ellis and her technical team to continue building a World Cup team, try new combinations, blood in young players and get their first win over the Netherlands while at it.

South Africa lost 1-0 and 2-0 in their two international friendly meetings in 2016 ahead of the Rio Olympic Games. The Europeans are ranked 7th in the world, while Banyana Banyana are in 48th position.

“It’s going to be tough, I won’t lie, especially because we have a couple of new players that have come into the team. The coach needs to see their level of the game and if they can step up to international football,” said Banyana Banyana forward Jermaine Seoposenwe.

“I think it’s also important for us to test all these combinations and formations because at the World Cup we are going to be tested tactically and physically. The coaches always speak about how we need to improve tactically and also help the team become more evolved and to grow, and develop technically as well – so these games will really help a lot in that regard.”

The South African Senior Women’s National Team enjoyed a good crowd in Cape Town when they faced Sweden this time last year – and will continue with the good support after all the tickets made available were snapped up by fans eager to support the World Cup-bound squad.

“We are happy to come to back to Cape Town after the good support we received the last time out here, and we really appreciate it, even though it’s some kind of pressure which we have to turn to positive pressure – but we are glad to have our crowd behind us. We need to perform to the best of our ability and get a good result because we have set the bar really high for ourselves,” said Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk.

“And we are all aware that we need to perform higher than the bar we have set, and most importantly, we know it will be a tough challenge because we are realistic about the opponent we are facing. But the good thing is that this is very good preparation for us as Netherlands is also going to the World Cup, so we will both give our all as we want to get something out of this match. This will also give us an indication of how far we have come as a team and where we are going.”

Banyana Banyana will also face Sweden in the Albertina Sisulu Centenary Challenge on Tuesday, 22 January 2019 at 19h00, also at the Cape Town Stadium.