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Banyana to host Sweden in the Mother City

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The Banyana Banyana national women’s football side will be in action on two occasions against Sweden, the world’s 11th-ranked side, in Cape Town next January.

But Mother City fans will only need to mark one date on their calendar. That date will be Sunday, 21 January (2pm kick-off). The first match between the two sides three days earlier, will be a closed-doors affair and merely a practice match.

Venue for the official match is believed to be the Cape Town Stadium.

Said Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille: ’In collaboration with the SAFA National Executive Committee, it gives me great pleasure to confirm that Cape Town will host the Swedish senior women’s national football team, together with our own Banyana Banyana

‘We urge everyone to come out in numbers to support our successful women’s national team. The opportunity to watch our in-form dynamic sports gems play live, is long overdue.’

This will be the third time the two nations meet – to date they’ve only faced each other in Olympic competition – and the South Africans will be hoping for a case of third time lucky.

The first match took place at the 2012 London Olympic Games with Banyana Banyana going down 4-1 – the now-retired Portia Modise scored South Africa’s solitary goal, a magnificent long-range effort.

Their most recent meeting was at last year’s Rio Olympic Games where South Africa lost 1-0.

Incredible though it may seem, this will be the first time Banyana Banyana play a match in Cape Town, and also the first time they play at a World Cup venue in South Africa.

‘As the brand behind Sasol Banyana Banyana, we believe that the upcoming matches against a world class opponent like Sweden, will put them in good stead as they step up their preparations for the upcoming Africa Women Cup of Nations and FIFA World Cup qualifiers,’ said Ms. Nozipho Mbatha, Sasol Group Brand Marketing Manager.

‘Our partnership with SAFA goes a long way in ensuring that such games become a regular occurrence for Sasol Banyana Banyana thus ensuring that the development of women’s football in the country is maintained.’

South Africa are ranked 52nd in the world and fifth on the African continent.

‘This is great news,’ said Banyana interim head coach Desiree Ellis. ‘We’ve been fortunate enough to play some of the top footballing nations where we gave a good account of ourselves, even though we did not get the results we wanted. This is amazing news to be playing Sweden – we’ve met them twice, and this third meeting will be a way for us to show how far we have come, to show what we have done in the last year and a half.’

‘It is also for the players to make their mark so they can go and play in better leagues around the world. I would just like to say to SAFA and our sponsor Sasol, thanks for all the support, we can only get better if we play against top nations.’

Leading up to last year’s Olympic Games, Banyana Banyana played against high-profile teams like the USA, the Netherlands as well as New Zealand.

In January this year, South Africa travelled to Reunion Islands to face France – a match they lost 2-0.

‘Playing Sweden is going to be a morale booster for the team, because in order for us to improve we need to play the best in the business, so we can see how far we have come as a nation,’ said Banyana Banyana captain Refiloe Jane.

‘Sweden are one of the best footballing nations when it comes to women’s football, we have already faced them twice and lost twice, but there has been a lot of improvement since the first match and we could have defeated them in Brazil.

‘For individual players, these matches serve as an opportunity for us to market ourselves – you will remember that Janine van Wyk and Roxanne Barker were snapped up by overseas teams after we faced the USA and the Netherlands respectively, so these games are also important on that score.’

In their last five matches, Sweden have drawn against Germany, lost to Italy and the Netherlands, and beaten Russia and Croatia.

Picture of Banyana’s Amanda Dlamini and Jessica Samuelsson of Sweden in 2016 Olympics action courtesy of Stuart Franklin/Getty Images