Banyana's Stephanie Malherbe excited for Olympic opener against Sweden


Banyana, who lost 4-1 to New Zealand in a friendly on Thursday, will start their campaign against Sweden on August 3, a day before the national U-23 men's side face tournament hosts Brazil.

Vera Pauw's charges have also been paired with China and Brazil in Group E.

“We have been together for a long time and prepared so much, we are eager to get the show on the road,” said Malherbe. “It would be incredible if I get the opportunity to start or even play in that match. And after the kind of preparation we had, I feel we are ready to face Sweden. I am confident we can surprise them. We had a bad day at the office against New Zealand but the good thing we know where we need to rectify.

“China, who we will play in our second match, will be very quick and organised. They move the ball very well but one of our strengths is the defence so I believe we will do well against them.

“Playing against hosts Brazil would probably be the icing on the cake - the environment and all the fans that will come to watch, it will be a great atmosphere on the day. I think that’s a once in a lifetime experience to be playing the host team in the Olympics. I am excited about how that game will pan out.”

She added: “I believe if we play as a team, as a unit, everyone is on the same page and we all believe in ourselves, we can absolutely do this. But if we play as individuals then the wheels will come off and we will be out of the tournament sooner than expected.”