The head coaches of South Africa’s U23s and Banyana Banyana are excited by the prospect of playing Brazil in the Olympic games in August.
Both South African sides were drawn against the hosts in the group stages of the Rio 2016 Olympics, and know that it will be tough if they are to make it into the quarterfinals of the respective competitions.
The U23s have Brazil, Denmark and Iraq in their group, while Banyana face off against Brazil, Sweden and China PR. For the men’s tournament it is the top two teams that go through, while the women’s competition sees the top two as well as the two best-placed teams in third make it.
Speaking from Brazil to SAFA, Da Gama spoke of his excitement, saying, “I am very happy with the draw. It reminds me of the CAF u23 AFCON where were drawn against the hosts and we eliminated them – maybe this is a good luck omen for us.
“Then again, no draw is easy because all the teams are tough. We could not have asked for a better opening match because the pressure will be on Brazil as hosts.
“The fact that we have drawn Brazil gives us confidence and a lot of motivation to tackle this competition. Fortunately, we played them last month and even though we lost, we know what they are about but that doesn’t mean they will be there for the taking. We still have to work hard. And I am by no means disregarding Iraq and Denmark – these are very good sides and have to plan carefully for all of them so we can get to the next round.”
Meanwhile, his female counterpart said, “This is as fantastic draw because the truth is every draw is tough and we knew coming here we could draw anyone. We are excited these are very strong teams and we will do everything in our power to ensure our preparations are thorough,” said Pauw, also from Brazil.
“What is also good is that we will be staying in Rio and only move when we play the hosts in Manaus. The good thing about this tournament is that it will give our girls the exposure they need and also increase their profiles. Like Owen said, the pressure is mainly on Brazil to perform in front of their fans and we just have to focus on what we have to do.”