18 February 2023 – SASOL Banyana Banyana captain Refiloe Jane has highlighted the importance of the matches that have been lined up for the reigning African champions ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup later this year.

Coach Desiree Ellis’ charges are in Turkey participating in the Turkish Women’s Cup and Jane said Saturday’s match against Uzbekistan and Tuesday’s outing vs Slovenia will be important building blocs for the team.

“It is very important to have these games that we are playing right now. As I said, they are very good preparation for us as we go forward (the FIFA Women’s World Cup),” she said.

“We don’t want to spend more time apart as a team. The more time we have together, the easier it is to prepare. With the local-based players and the overseas-based players, it is difficult to come together when there’s no FIFA break. Looking at the calendar of international matches that you need to play, we do not have enough time to prepare for that.

“So with the little that we get, we need to maximize it and make sure that by the time we get to the big stage, at least we have worked on a lot of things. Despite all this, we need to work as individuals back at home with our clubs also. We still need to put in a lot of effort so that when you come here, the coaches just need to focus on the tactical part of the sessions. The minimum things that we can do, we just need to do them at our own time.”

The Women’s World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand and will run from 20 July to 20 August. The South African senior women’s team were drawn against Sweden, Italy and Argentina in Group G.

Jane said the team has been warmly welcomed in Turkey and they have been able to quietly go about their business in the last few days.

“Yes, since we got here in Turkey, the reception has been very good from the locals. Even where we are staying now at the hotel, the staff has been good to us. Even at training, the treatment has been good. We know the challenges that Turkey is facing at the moment, and we sympathize with them. We feel very grateful that they still afford us the chance to be here and play this type of tournament, have this type of preparations for the journey ahead and we’re not taking that for granted. So far everything has been going very well and we feel very grateful towards the Turkish people for having here in their own country despite what they are facing (after the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria that claimed thousands of lives and injured many more.”