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A decade of dedication pays off for Banyana’s Noko


And despite so many failures in the past to make it into the showpiece she never abandoned her World Cup dream

STALWART: Noko Matlou of South Africa is living her life-long dream of playing in the Football World Cup. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu BackpagePix

Veteran Banyana Banyana defender, Noko Matlou, has never gave up on her dream of competing in the World Cup.

The 33-year-old who has amassed 89 appearances for Banyana is one of the stalwarts in the Banyana squad that is preparing for the World Cup that will be held in France in June, where Banyana will find themselves pitted against Germany, Spain and China.

Matlou has seen it all with Banyana. From winning the Cosafa Cup, plying her trade in numerous Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournaments to winning the Caf Women’s African Footballer of the Year in 2008. She was also the part of the team that played in the Olympic Games both at London 2012 and Brazil in 2016.

And despite so many failures in the past to make it into the showpiece she never abandoned her World Cup dream.

“If you work hard, there’s nothing that can stop you. The only thing that was left on my list of achievements was to qualify for the World Cup. I want to compete with the best at the World Cup. We have players who are playing overseas. I never gave up. I knew that it wasn’t meant to be when we didn’t qualify. I knew that our chance will come,” Matlou said.

Banyana recently took part in the Cyprus Women’s Cup where they failed to taste success in three matches.

They shared the spoils with Finland but succumbed to defeats against Czech Republic and North Korea.

“We’ve learned a lot from Cyprus. We need to minimise our mistakes and take right decisions. If we can work on that, then we will be fine. We have to make sure we also bury our chances,” she added.

Despite being with the national team for over 10 years, Matlou, still understands that she has to work for her place.

“We have a lot of players coming from the Under-17s. They are hungry to make their names. In our team we also possess players that are in Europe. It is not easy to be in the national team,” she said.

“The secret to my longevity in the team is down to dedication. Even if it is off-season, you have to train by yourself. You never know, when they call you have to he super fit. If you work hard and you are dedicated there’s nothing that can stop you from representing your country,” Matlou added.

Banyana will lock horns with Jamaica on Sunday in a friendly match at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at 3pm.

“The games against Jamaica and USA will give us a clear idea of where we are with the preparations. The game against Jamaica is the last one at home.

“We have to make our supporters happy. If we do well, it will be a good motivation for us going into the World Cup,” Matlou concluded.