Nothando Vilakazi prepared to pass on left-back baton to Bongeka Gamede

Nothando Vilakazi.
Nothando Vilakazi.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Having been Banyana Banyana's first-choice left-back for nearly 12 years now, Nothando Vilakazi, 30, has tipped Bongeka Gamede to pick up the baton in future.

Vilakazi and the 20-year-old Gamede are part of Banyana Banyana's squad to face
neighbours Botswana in the second round, first leg, of Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifier tonight (7pm SA time).

"As times goes on, they must get someone to play there [left-back]. I think Bongeka is doing very well . she can do the job when I am no longer playing," said Vilakazi.

"Even at this moment, she's keeping me on my toes. I know that I must stay consistent because she's knocking on the door, wanting to start games."

Vilakazi, who is on the books of Lithuanian giants Gintra Universitetas, made her Banyana debut against Ghana in 2007, and has over 140 national team appearances.

The seasoned defender recently turned out in the Uefa Women's Champions League. Vilakazi has shared her experiences of plying her trade abroad, comparing it with participating in the World Cup.

"Since playing abroad, I've gained a lot of experience because there were so many things that I was not aware of," said Vilakazi.

"I wasn't a regular set-piece taker when I was here, but I've always realised that I've had the ability to take them. But when I got there, I am practising them almost every day and I think that will help us as a national team because I am confident with taking them now.

"The World Cup is the highest level in football but the Uefa Champions League's standards are also of top class," she said.

For the return leg next Tuesday, Banyana will host Botswana at Orlando Stadium, not at Dobsonville Stadium as it was initially planned.

Vilakazi thinks their World Cup experience will set them apart from other nations in a quest for a spot at the Olympics

"It's not going to be easy, but I think we've prepared well. So, that's why we'll go there and do our best," said Vilakazi.

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