21 September 2023 – Banyana Banyana are ready to face the United States of America after conducting their final training session ahead of their highly anticipated showdown against the former FIFA Women’s World Cup champions. 

The African Champions face the pedigreed Americans in the first of two friendly matches at the TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, on 21 September 2023 (22 September 01:30am CAT) and coach Desiree Ellis had all 21 selected players present during training on Wednesday.

Banyana Banyana forward Thembi Kgatlana, who plays in the USA for Racing Louisville, said the weather could pose a challenge to her teammates as they did not have enough time to adjust to the boiling hot conditions after arriving in Cincinnati on Monday (18 September 2023). But Kgatlana added that the Sasol-sponsored South African senior women’s team will approach the game with confidence. 

“It was pretty easy for me to adjust because I am already in the USA and there isn’t much adjusting needed, but it could be a little bit difficult for my teammates. But adjusting to the conditions is part of the sport and how quickly we do it is important. We are looking forward to the game,” said Kgatlana.

“Everyone wants to play the USA. They are one of the best teams in the world and I think this international friendly match couldn’t have come at a better time. It comes just after the FIFA Women’s World Cup, with a lot of confidence in the team after the way we played in Australia and New Zealand. These matches are also preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the Olympic qualifiers. This is a big game for us, a game we can learn a lot from, and we intend to enjoy it.”

The match will also serve as a farewell match for respected two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Julie Ertz, who announced her retirement in August.

The USA triumphed in the last meetings between the two sides, winning 1-0 in July 2016 and 3-0 in May 2019. But this is a different Banyana Banyana side and the Americans will be aware that Ellis’ charges have grown tremendously in the last few years and they are now the African champions.

Banyana Banyana had to contend with a few changes before departure to Cincinnati with Hildah Magaia withdrawing due to medical reasons, while Sibulele Holweni suffered an injury and did not make the trip.

The match will kick off at 19:30pm (01:30am CAT) and will be live on SABC Sport channel, SABC 1, sabcsport.com and SABC Radio stations with the build up expected to commence 30 minutes earlier (01:00am).

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