/ 13 February 2012

Banyana focus on strength for Olympics

Banyana Banyana will look to up their power and strength in the build-up to the London Olympic Games in July, with Brazilian physical trainer Francesco Gonzales confident that the players have improved from a physical fitness perspective.

Gonzales, who is also the physical trainer for Bafana Bafana, put the South African women’s team through their paces during their first training session at Brazil’s national football training centre, outside Rio de Janeiro, on Sunday.

“There is no doubt that these Banyana Banyana players are fitter and stronger than before but I have six months to work on their power and strength to ensure maximum explosive bursts from them during matches at the Olympics,” said Gonzales.

The South African Football Association (Safa) said Banyana would play against club side Zepe de Dugue in the first match of their Brazil trip on Tuesday.

US-based goalkeeper Roxanne Barker had joined the camp in Teresopolis to complete the contingent of 22 players.

Watchful eye
“I played quite a bit of football as a central defender for Durban Ladies in the KwaZulu-Natal Sasol League but my university coaches have been quite happy with my performances as a goalkeeper and I have stayed in that position since,” said Barker.

The 20-year-old, with two Banyana caps to her name, joined fellow goalkeepers Thoko Mndaweni and Mputle Ntshatsana in training under the watchful eye of Banyana Banyana goalkeeper coach Simon Gopane.

“The spirit in the camp is superb and I think we are in for an exciting few weeks here in Brazil and at the Cyprus Women’s Cup later this month,” Barker said.

“Credit must go to our team sponsor and Safa for creating all these wonderful opportunities for our top women players to showcase their football skills against some of the best teams in the world.

“I am also positive that these outings will do us a world of good come competition time.” — Sapa