History was made when South Africa appointed a foreign coach to take charge of Banyana Banyana. This was communicated by the South African Football Association (SAFA) in Johannesburg on Thursday.
The Netherlands-born coach, Vera Pauw, will be tasked with building a formidable team ahead of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
She takes over from Joseph Mkhonza who has been appointed as national selector for all the women’s teams.
“We want to take the team to the next level,” SAFA technical director Fran Hilton-Smith said.
“We wanted to bring in someone with international experience at the highest level who can help take the team one step further and qualify for the World Cup.”
Pauw has worked as the technical director of the Russian Football Union and was the country’s interim coach in 2011.
She was Netherlands technical director and the women’s national team coach from 2004-2010, leading the country to the bronze medal in the European Championships in Finland in 2009.
“Vera comes with vast experience and will assist in elevating our local female coaches.
“She will also conduct workshops with our female coaches who have recently completed their CAF B licence.
“Former Banyana captain Simphiwe Dludlu completed her UEFA B licence in Holland and she’s one of the women who will be earmarked to go further in the coaching structures.”
Pauw arrives in South Africa on Monday and will immediately get to work preparing the team for its World Cup qualifying campaign.
In order to qualify for the World Cup, Banyana would have to finish in the top three at the CAF African Women Championships (AWC) scheduled for October in Namibia.
However, Banyana still needs to qualify for the AWC by winning its home and away ties against Comoros Islands.
“We have a camp on the 19th March where 40 national team candidates will arrive, including the previous Banyana team.
“Vera will have to whittle them down to prepare for a friendly against Nambia, who are the hosts of the AWC and to prepare for our qualifiers against Comoros in May.”
Hilton-Smith said they faced a busy year ahead as they looked to be worthy contenders on the international platform.
“We are going flat out this year, and one of our biggest problems is that we have to catch up on game time so we have to play a lot of friendlies.
“That’s a problem for many women’s national teams in Africa, they don’t play enough and when you go to big tournaments you get hammered because you’re not playing.
“The vision shared by all is that the team must be in action and so we have a number of friendlies in the pipeline and have earmarked top teams to play against.”
Despite the new technical changes, Hilton-Smith insisted Banyana would keep its flair on the field of play.
“Banyana’s style won’t change.
“It’s their style that has got them to where they are.
“They qualified for the Olympics and the African women championships 2012, where they made it through to the final, and there is no possibility of changing their style.
“All we want to do is work on their tactical acumen and their physical ability.”