Olympics: Preview Notes – South Africa (Group F)

DEBUTANTES DESTINED TO BE WALLFLOWERS? Banyana Banyana (“banyana” means “the girls” in Nguni) is, at #61,  the lowest ranked squad in the tournament and find themselves in a group with two of the top three teams from the 2011 Women’s World Cup: champions Japan and third-place Sweden, along with a Canada side that is focused on redemption.

  • How They Qualified: Won one of two branches in African qualifying
  • FIFA Rank: #61
  • Previous Olympics: n/a
  • 2011 WWC Performance: did not qualify
  • Key Players: Portia Modise (forward), Mpumi Nyandeni (midfielder), Noko Matlou (forward), Janine Van Wyk (defender)
  • Head Coach: Joseph Mkhonza
  • Team Captain: Amanda Dlamini (safa.net)
  • Recent Form: L, D, W, D, W, W
  • Group Finish Probabilities: 1st, 2%; 2nd, 5%; 3rd, 20%; 4th, 73%
  • Medal Chances: Slim

FEW MATCHES OUTSIDE AFRICA — Before the Cyprus Cup in March 2012, South Africa’s last international match with a non-African team was March 2010 at that year’s Cyprus Cup. So, Banyana Banyana does not have much experience against higher quality squads. And, the number of useful data points for making comparisons is fairly low.

RECENT MATCHES — Outside of Africa, South Africa has played only one international friendly as a tune-up, and that was an unofficial closed-door loss against Great Britain, which ended 3:1 in the host’s favor. Before that, Banyana Banyana played against German club Bayer Leverkusen, winning 3:1 (safa.net). In June, amid  some African Women Championship qualifiers, South Africa drew both its friendlies with Nigeria, with scorelines of 1:1 and 0:0.

OTHER DATA POINTS — Going back farther, to March, in this year’s Cyprus Cup, South Africa lost 1:2 to South Korea, had a scoreless draw with New Zealand, defeated #53 Northern Ireland 2:0, and lost 0:2 to Scotland.

GROUP CHANCES — Given the difficult group, South Africa has almost no shot of getting to the quarterfinals via a top two finish. The more likely path would be by way of a third-place wild card, but even that will be a challenge, as Banyana Banyana would need a major upset over one of the other teams, with Canada being the most likely candidate. And, that is just to get to 3 points. To have a solid chance at advancing, South Africa would need to draw with either world champions Japan or second runners-up Sweden.

INJURIES — Multi-tattooed defender Janine Van Wyk is returning from a minor groin strain that kept her out of the team’s June matches (nbcolympics.com).

PROBABLE STARTERS — No recent roster is readily available.

* * *

See Also:

* * *