With South Africa ranked 52nd in the world and their opposition occupying the summit of the rankings, Pauw’s charges did not disappoint despite conceding 10 minutes before the interval with Crystall Dunn grabbing a goal for the hosts.
Both teams were using the match to prepare for the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics Games, and Pauw with the performance of her side.
“It is the first time in my career that I can say to my team ‘congratulations and I am proud’ despite a defeat. However, we need to realise that at this level the few chances you get you have to go for goal, and we didn’t do so. We have been working on that for a long time, and during pressure times if you don’t have the guts to fail, you will never succeed,” said Pauw.
Banyana captain Janine van Wyk echoed the sentiments of her coach.
“It was the most incredible game, with an interesting atmosphere at the stadium, and the overall performance of the team was incredible. Credit goes to all the players as they really played their part. Even though we came out defeated, I think it was still an amazing result for us against the World Champions. We saw some of their matches where they beat teams by high margins and we thought they would come out and hammer us, but we kept our cool. Overall we did extremely well against the world’s best and we can only improve from here on,” said Van Wyk.
Van Wyk was instrumental in defence in not allowing the USA to dominate proceedings.
“I have been saying it’s a dream come true for me, and you only get this opportunity maybe once in-a- lifetime, and I really wanted to make it the best of my career. I really feel that as a captain, a leader and a player that has been in the national team for so many years that I needed to step up for my team and I am really pleased with my performance today. It has given me a lot of confidence going forward because my teammates are looking up to me as well. I am really happy with what I did on the field today and hopefully I can carry on being consistent going into Rio. I believe this result has really given us a lot of confidence, and we hope that when we play against New Zealand before the start of the Games, we can get a good result that will make us ready for Rio,” she said.
It was a good day for former Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini when she gained her 100th cap for the national team.
Dlamini came on as a substitute on the hour mark for Linda Motlhalo.
“It was an exciting match and we really showed we have made some tremendous strides as a team. And we showed we are able to challenge anyone if we set our minds to it, and it was also another opportunity to progress more in our mission to be ready for the Olympics,” said Dlamini.
“As for my 100th appearance I really tried to block everything out of my head before the match because I knew how important it was to first play the match then celebrate afterwards. I should thank all the people who showed appreciation for what I have done for the national team. So it is quite exciting to have finally made 100 caps today.”
Now the hardest part for Pauw and the technical team is to select the final 22 players going to Rio – something that has now become a headache following the good performance against the USA.
“The result and performance has brought in even more hesitation from us selecting the final team, but we have to do it. We need to see the injured players – we had Shiwe Nogwanya with a dislocated elbow, but the doctor said she will be fine and we also had Robyn Moodaly, who is not strong enough yet – but we have about four weeks and she could make a big step. So we need to make the final decision soon, our job is not over yet.
“It will be will a long discussion because we want to give every player a chance they deserve for all the hard work and sacrifices they have made, so we need to review videos and decide. We will not make this decision lightly,” said the Banyana Banyana mentor.
Banyana Banyana return home on Monday. They are expected to land in South Africa at 4.30pm at the OR Tambo International airport.
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