Banyana Banyana will face the United States women’s football team for the first time everin an international friendly match as part of their preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Vera Pauw’s side and the Stars and Stripes will meet on 9 July at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois (7pm local time). The USA are the top-ranked team in women’s football and are also current world champions. Coach Pauw says her team could not have asked for stronger opposition to prepare for the Olympics. ‘What else can you wish for than playing the world champions in your final preparation for the Olympics? ‘It is absolutely amazing and we are thrilled to play them. Of course it will be very difficult and we might suffer a big defeat but it doesn’t really matter as I believe it is better to go through that now than at the Olympics. ‘And it is the only way to be ready for the difficult battles we will encounter in Rio. These players have never experienced such opposition so it is amazing. I would also like to say thanks to the USA for agreeing to play us,’ said Pauw. The match against the USA will the first meeting between the two countries in women’s football and will also mark just the second African country that has faced the USA in its history. The Americans have played Nigeria four times in World Cup or Olympic competition. USA head coach Jill Ellis said playing Banyana Banyana was a thrilling prospect. ‘We are very excited to play a country that we have never faced before as we will get another team that will be competing in the Olympics. We are going to really embrace this opportunity to play in front of our home fans before we go to Brazil,’ said USA head coach Jill Ellis. The President of the South African Football Association (SAFA), Dr Danny Jordaan is excited that they managed to clinch the deal to play against the Americans. ‘To be the best you must play the best; they don’t come bigger than the USA. What else can we ask for? We want to give our team the best preparation we can and will do everything in our power to ensure that they are fully prepared for the Rio Olympics. – See more at: