Irish stew warms team
BANGKOK - After wrapping up their preparations for the 24th World Student Games with a credible goalless draw against stubborn Ireland yesterday, Team South Africa's women's national soccer side is razor sharp for the tournament.
This was according to coach Jerry Laka after the warm-up match with the Irish side as South Africa plan to get off to a flying start in the Games with a win over Canada in their opening match tomorrow.
"I was quite impressed by the level of fitness displayed by our players, though I must confess that the fact that Banyana Banyana are in camp for the game against Nigeria affected our plans," said Laka.
Laka has failed to request Banyana Banyana coach August Makalakalane not to select Keneilwe Mathibela and Simphiwe Dludu for the Beijing Olympics return qualifier against Nigeria.
"It is disappointing that there is no coordination between Banyana Banyana and ourselves. I still maintain that women's football in South Africa would improve tremendously if all those involved put their heads together," said Laka, one of the top local women's soccer coaches.
Deputy captain Elda Mpofu is the only member of Team South Africa's women's soccer side who has been to the past two editions of this biennial tournament in South Korea in 2003 and Turkey in 2005.
Regarding the game against the Canadians, Laka said: "We are certainly ready for them. The good thing is also that we have an idea after playing to a 2-2 draw with them in South Korea.
"Our plan is to start well by winning the match on Tuesday."
In other first-round matches, South Africa will play against China on Thursday and Great Britain on Sunday.
In Turkey, China routed South Africa 6-1 in the first round.
l The Final Whistle column will be back next week.