BANYANA Banyana's first match at the Four Nations tournament against one of the grittiest sides in women's football - China - will stretch August Makalakalane's team to the maximum.
They meet China on Saturday at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam.
Based on their consistently excellent performances in major tournaments such as the World Cup and the Olympic Games, the Chinese will be a tough proposition for Makalakalane's girls.
Affectionately known as "The Steel" and "Forceful Roses", China held the record when they went 442 minutes without conceding a World Cup goal at the 2007 tournament.
Their impressive showing was broken by eventual champions Germany.
Having put some fine touches to their preparations with a training match against an under-15 boys' team from Ekurhuleni last Saturday, Makalakalane said he was happy with his team's progress.
"I am happy with the poise and determination shown by the girls, after a strenuous training session playing the under-15 boys," Makalakalane said.
"We did a lighter training session on Sunday to recover, but still worked on fortifying our defence - an area where we were leaking goals.
"But they're looking more organised in that department now, and I'm happy with that.
"They have been practising their set pieces and their attacking prowess is growing stronger."
After the first match in Amsterdam, Banyana's programme will not get any easier, as their second match will be against the hosts on July 13.
They will then face Switzerland two days later on July 15.
Banyana's opponents are all highly ranked in the Fifa world rankings; China at 12th spot, the Netherlands at 17th and Switzerland at 26th while Banyana are further down at 55th.
Makalakalane will pin his hopes on players such as Busisiwe Ndimeni and Nompumelelo Nyandeni.
Banyana leave for Holland tonight.