Amanda Dlamini will lead the first ever South African women's football team to take part in an Olympic Games in London, where they will face a level of competition they have not previously experienced. The Banyana Banyana captain is not overawed
Nonetheless, a daunting task awaits Dlamini and her team. At 61st in the world rankings, they are the lowest ranked team in the 12-team field, and their group, Group F, is undoubtedly the toughest of the three.
The other teams in the group include World Cup holders and world number three Japan, world number four Sweden, and world number seven Canada.
It's unknown territory for South Africa. The national women's football team has never previously qualified for the Olympics or the World Cup. It is truly a giant step up.
In a television interview with Morning Live to mark 100 days to go to the Olympics, Dlamini said: "Our objective is to win our group matches, qualify, and go through to the next round. I think for us, then, the game will be open for anyone."
She explained that Banyana Banyana, as a team, had decided to uplift the sport of women's football in South Africa, and that had paid off.
"We took it upon ourselves to represent the sport, represent women as well, go out there and do our best," Dlamini said.
"And I think with that kind of mentality, we managed to pull in crowds, we managed to pull in people that could sponsor us, like Sasol. So, I think if we as women could unite with just one goal, and that is to achieve a better structure of women's football, we could do anything.
'Anything is possible'
"Anything is possible with this team, as long as we take ourselves seriously," said the striker.
Describing what it felt like to secure a place at the London Olympics, Dlamini said: "The last five minutes [against Ethiopia] were the most exciting minutes, because we knew that we were 3-0 up [on aggregate], so we were just waiting for the referee to blow the final whistle.
"We were crying tears of joy. I remember, when we failed to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa, we were crying because we didn't make it, but this time we cried tears of joy."
'A special feeling'
Interviewed by SA Women Soccer in May, Dlamini spoke about captaining the national team. "To wear the captain's armband is a special feeling. I am enjoying this experience," she said.
Dlamini and company have played 10 internationals in 2012 so far, and with plenty of time in training camps together, they should be well prepared when the London Olympics kick off.
Two recent draws against Nigeria, the number one ranked team in Africa at 27th in the world, suggests that the hard work is paying off.
Dlamini believes Banyana Banyana have a responsibility to fly the South African flag high. "The ball is in our court. We have to make South Africans proud. We will not be making up numbers in London; we're going to compete."
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