As Banyana Banyana striker Noko Matlou handed in her final assignments for the semester, she had a bigger homework task on her mind – and that’s helping Banyana qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.
The University of Johannesburg undergraduate left her student residence yesterday and embarked on a long journey home to Limpopo.
She said the trip will give her a lot to think about as Banyana approach their final hurdle to the London Olympics, and as her Sasol league side, Brazilians FC, look to clinch the national title.
“Banyana have a mission to make this country proud and my biggest task it to help the team achieve that goal but ahead of that is the Sasol League Championships which my team needs to win,” said Matlou.
The Sasol League Championships take place on June 20 in Bloemfontein while Banyana take on Ethiopia home and away in August.
“The UJ High Performance Programme has been instrumental in keeping me in shape and fit to help Banyana,” said Matlou.
Matlou manages to keep the Banyana flag flying high locally and internationally while keeping her academic focus on her transport management studies.
“Sometimes I have to bring my books with me to Banyana camps but I’m not complaining as it all works out for me as well as the team,” she said.
With 41 goals in 56 Banyana Banyana appearances, the 25-year-old believes that her combination with fellow UJ student and striker Amanda Dlamini is key Banyana’s chances of qualifying.
“I am confident we will qualify for the Olympics come August. We have a strong team and our performance has been getting better and better,” said Matlou.
Banyana captain Dlamini, also studying transport management, says the team has come a long way since failing to qualify for the Fifa 2011 World Cup.
“It was a difficult time for us last year when we did not qualify for the World Cup, but we were able to pick ourselves up as a team and set our sights on the Olympics,” she said.
Dlamini said the country’s support has kept Banyana strong in their campaign. “We know that we can count on the South African fans in whatever we do, and most importantly at crucial moments like this,” she explained.
By Sinenhlanhla Gumede