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I'm ready for World Cup action - rookie Bongeka Gamede

Banyana Banyana's Bongeka Gamede with Rasheedat Ajibade of Nigeria.
Banyana Banyana's Bongeka Gamede with Rasheedat Ajibade of Nigeria.
Image: Philip Maeta/Gallo Images

Banyana Banyana rookie Bongeka Gamede has confidently made her intentions clear that she's not in the World Cup squad to watch from the bench.

The 20-year-old defender, who's in the books of University of the Western Cape (UWC) Ladies, and University of Pretoria goalkeeper Mapaseka Mpuru, are the only two uncapped players in the World Cup squad.

The duo could make their Banyana debuts against Norway in France on Sunday (8pm SA time). It'll be SA's last friendly before participating in what will be their maiden World Cup.

"I want to play . I'm ready. Not that I doubt myself but I didn't foresee this [being called up for the World Cup]. It's the happiest moment of my life, but my aim is to actually play . not just watch from the bench,'' said Gamede.

The World Cup begins next Friday. SA are in Group B with Germany, China and Spain. Banyana entertain the latter in the opener on day-two of the international spectacle.

"This match [against Norway] is very important because it will show us how ready we are for the World Cup,'' said Gamede, who is doing her first year in tourism management at UWC.

The hard-working defender, who hails from Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, relishes juggling her promising football career with her education.

"It's about what you want in life. Studying and playing football at the same time is a nice challenge, it keeps you focused. I am not finding it difficult at all,'' said Gamede, who graduated from the junior national teams.

She grew up idolising Banyana workhorse Mamello Makhabane, not knowing that she'll eventually rub shoulders with her. They are both in France with Banyana.

"When I was growing up, I was a big fan of Mamello. My dream was that I wouldn't like to see her retire before I share the field with her... That I am doing it now makes me happy."

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