By Tholwana Mokoko
Both South African football teams have been drawn in the same group as hosts Brazil for their group stages at this year’s Olympic Games.
The 2016 Rio Olympics look set to be the most promising for South African football, as it will mark the first time in history that both Banyana Banyana and the U23 SA teams have qualified for the games, which will bring hope of good performances for the fans. Both teams had confirmed their qualifications for months now; one can only hope that their eagerness to perform will be as high as their fans hopes for their success.
The U23 team will face the 2012 runners-up and hosts Brazil in the tournaments opening fixture, the two other teams in their group are Iraq and Denmark, which for many fans will pose as a good chance for the South Africans to make it past the group stages for the first time in their history. Fellow Africans Nigeria and Algeria conclude the continents representatives for this year’s Games, further boosting the chances of an African team returning with a medal, but many South Africans will be most eager to see tier team perform, as this crop of players represents the next generation of the Bafana Bafana team (SA Senior National Team).
Banyana Bayana (SA Senior Female National Team) are currently enjoying one of their better spells of form and are on a real high for the year as they recently confirmed qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations to be held later this year, so for many fans they represent the best chance of silverware for the SA football sides. Like the men’s teams they too have been drawn in the same group as host Brazil, along with China and Sweden, suggesting their group stages will be more challenging than that of their male counterparts. Banyana coach Vera Pauw had said she was confident of her girls form as they edge closer to the Olympic Games, saying this after they convincingly beat Botswana to confirm their AFCON qualification. Neighbours Zimbabwe will be the other female’s football team at this year’s Games, suggesting a strong Southern African contingency, which hopefully will result is success for the two teams.