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Safa justifies ‘inadequate’ Botswana for Banyana

We could not afford a friendly abroad - CEO

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Sauls Cimane of South Africa during the Women's International Friendly match between South Africa and Botswana at Tsakane Stadium on July 02, 2023 in Brakpan, South Africa.
Sauls Cimane of South Africa during the Women's International Friendly match between South Africa and Botswana at Tsakane Stadium on July 02, 2023 in Brakpan, South Africa.
Image: Lee Warren

SA Football Association (Safa) CEO Lydia Monyepao has explained why in the football governing body’s eyes Botswana were still quality opponents for Banyana Banyana in their final home friendly before departing for the World Cup.

“Banyana indicated to us their displeasure in terms of playing Botswana. But we are categorically clear that Botswana is a team of calibre, having knocked us out of the 2020 Olympic qualifiers and also having given us tough time at the women’s Afcon last year, where we only beat them 1-0 with a strong team,” Monyepao said yesterday at a press conference to announce Bet10 as Bafana Bafana’s new partner on a four-year deal.

It’s believed that Switzerland and Germany approached Safa for friendlies with Banyana but the association apparently turned them down. Both European nations ended up getting Zambia instead, with the Copper Queens holding Switzerland to a 3-3 draw in their backyard last Friday. Zambia are scheduled to face Germany in Bavaria on Friday. Like Banyana, they are also headed to the World Cup.

“We wanted this to be a send-off match. Having written several letters to other international member associations, we wanted a team that would come to SA not for our team to go overseas and unfortunately no one came with a positive response because they felt this was outside the Fifa international break,” the Safa CEO said.

“Some of them asked us to cover their flight costs and unfortunately we didn’t have that in our budget, so Botswana are the ones that raised their hands.”

During the week, Banyana star Jermaine Seoposenwe made it clear they weren’t happy about facing Botswana, who are not going to the World Cup, in the send-off friendly because they felt that was not going to give them an adequate test ahead of the global spectacle.

The squad’s disappointment at playing Botswana was also fuelled by the fact that they hadn’t  reached an agreement with Safa as far as World Cup bonuses are concerned, resulting in them not honouring the Botswana fixture at Tsakane stadium on Sunday. Safa hastily organised a new team, made of inexperienced players from Sasol League and Hollywoodbets Super League. The makeshift Banyana would be embarrassed 5-0 at the end.

By yesterday afternoon, the Banyana players had not returned to camp after leaving amid the impasse on Sunday and a sponsors send-off event which was to be held today, was cancelled. They depart for the World Cup in two batches, tomorrow and Thursday.

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