31 January 2019– Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Andile Dlamini says they learnt a lot from the two international friendly matches they played against the Netherlands and Sweden.

The fixtures were the first of the year for the South African Senior Women’s National Team, which they used for preparations for the FIFA Women’s World Cup coming up in June this year.

This is the first time Banyana Banyana qualify for the tournament, and they have lined up top footballing nations to get ready for the biggest stage in world football – Netherlands and Sweden were first in line.

“It was a great start to our World Cup preparations, which had to do a lot with sacrifices. When our families were enjoying the December break, we continued with our training programmes – hard work by us made it possible for us to start the year in the way that we started,” said Dlamini.

“I don’t think we could have coped, especially in the second of the two games had we not put in the hard shift during the festive season. But you could see that we all the hard work showed when we played against these top nations.”

Dlamini adds that they wasted a couple of opportunities, which could have led to victories for South Africa.

Banyana Banyana lost 2-1 to Netherlands and drew 0-0 against Sweden – they are ranked 7thand 9thin the world.

“On the field of play it’s 11 v 11, and it’s not about where you are as a country in terms of rankings – whoever takes their chances will win on the day, that is the lesson we learnt. I saw how we played against the Netherlands, it was beautiful football but we did not convert our chances,” added Sticks, as she is popularly known.

“The greatest lesson is that either you take your chances or you don’t, and if you go for the take the latter then you will end up crying.”

Dlamini played in the second match against Sweden – her first start for Banyana Banyana since September in the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship in Port Elizabeth.

“It was an amazing feeling being back in goals. I always play for God first, then my country, so I could not believe that I was on the field. I also felt that I didn’t have much to do because my teammates were doing a good job. I saw them fight very hard, and it felt amazing being in the squad because playing for your national team is a dream for every one,” said Dlamini.

“I always say when you get your chance you need to be excited and use that opportunity because maybe next time it may be someone else. In fact, I even get goose-bumps just thinking about being in goals on that day. What made it even sweeter was that having been in the national team for so long, it was my first time playing in Cape Town and that motivated me even more.”

Next up for Banyana Banyana will be Finland, Korea DPR and the Czech Republic at the Cyprus Women’s Cup late in February. The tournament will be played from 27 February to 6 March.

This will be followed by a trip to California where they will face the USA in May.

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup runs from 7 June to 7 July.