The national women’s football side, Banyana Banyana are in the final phase of their preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. This stage will be completed with an international friendly match against New Zealand in Brazil next Thursday. The venue is still to be confirmed. The Sasol-sponsored side are holding their final week-long training camp on home soil, in partnership with Lotto and the squad departs for Rio on Saturday as part of Team South Africa. The Game are scheduled to start on Wednesday, 3 August. South Africa have already faced top class opposition as they continued with preparations for the Olympics, facing the Netherlands and number one-ranked USA Coach Vera Pauw says the New Zealand match is also very crucial. ‘Every match we play we want to improve, and the New Zealand clash is not different. We want our play to be better than it is now. I wish New Zealand can put us under pressure the way the USA did, and I know they are capable of that because that is their playing style, that is why we wanted to play them, but USA are stronger in the attacking play. Hopefully we can improve on our attack too,’ said Pauw. The Banyana Banyana mentor is adamant that concentration is also paramount for winning. ‘What you could get away with in earlier games you won’t get away with now, so we have discussed these moments with the players – for example, one step forward, or one step late, getting your eye off the ball for a moment means a chance against us. For us to be the best we have to play as a team and concentrate for 90 minutes and more,’ added Pauw. Asked about the team’s chances as the clocks ticks towards the start of competition, Pauw had this to say. ‘It is so difficult to say before competition starts because our opponents are ranked between 1 and 12 while we are on 52, and they are all top nations. China is growing and going back to being a strong force they were about a decade ago. We want to everybody to be proud of us, and see that we are improving. We want leave a legacy that we don’t get ignored anymore,’ said Pauw. ‘After the USA game many agents approached us to enquire about our players, so the other aim is that the players get a chance to become professionals and create a different life for themselves because they deserve it. ‘So those goals are hanging above us and we will do anything to get positive results and at the end we will see how far we get.’ – See more at: