Banyana promise to make the nation proud
For Banyana Banyana, who are ranked 48 in the Fifa rankings, it will be a matter of aiming to defy the odds at their maiden World Cup in France.
Banyana begin their campaign against Spain at Stade Oceane tomorrow (6pm). Spain are 13th in the world rankings.
Germany and China are the other two nations in SA's Group B, with the latter ranked three places behind Spain while the former are second behind the US in the global rankings.
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The odds are against Banyana for various reasons, but mainly because they're the lowest-ranked side in their group.
To make matters worse, SA are winless this year, with six defeats and three draws. This should help us, as the nation, to lower our expectations for Banyana.
"Nervous. I'm nervous!" This is how defender Lebogang Ramalepe, 27, described her feelings about participating in the international showpiece for the first time.
"I still remember the day we qualified for the World Cup in Ghana. I never thought this day will come."
Ramalepe, who's the vice-captain to Janine van Wyk alongside Refiloe Jane, has stressed the importance of winning the opener against Spain.
"The first game is like a final. [In the first game] it's where you must set the tone by collecting points. Winning against Spain would put us in a good position to qualify for the knockout phase," said Ramalepe.
Banyana are still reeling from last Sunday's 7-2 drubbing at the hands of Norway.
"Looking back at the game against Norway, it was embarrassing. We want to do better in the World Cup. We want to do it for the nation," the Banyana rightback noted.
Meanwhile, coach Desiree Ellis has admitted their recent dip in form was cause for concern ahead of the World Cup. However, the Banyana mentor emphasised they remained confident.
"Yes it's worrying that we have not won a match in 2019, but we cannot dwell on that because the World Cup is here. Our morale is still intact, we are eager to do it against all odds," said Ellis.
Banyana World Cup fixtures
- V Spain, tomorrow (6pm)
- V China, June 13 (9pm)
- V Germany June 17 (6pm)
- A horrid 2019 for Banyana
- Jan 1: Banyana 1, Netherlands 2
- Jan 22: Banyana 0, Sweden 0
- Feb 27: Banyana 2, Finland 2
- March 1: Banyana 1, Korea DPR 4
- Czech Republic 2, Banyana 1
- March 6: Finland 3, Banyana 0
- April 7: Banyana 1, Jamaica 1
- May 12: USA 3, Banyana 0
- June 2: Banyana 2, Norway 7