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South Africa face do or die clash with China at Rio Olympics

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Head coach of the South African Women’s Olympic Team, Vera Pauw, has described their clash against China as a do or die affair. The two nations meet tonight (Saturday, 6 August) in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Both sides lost their opening clashes – South Africa went down 1-0 to Sweden while Brazil beat China 3-0 in the other encounter, which makes this fixture all the more important.

“Both South Africa and China need positive results after we did not do well in our first matches, so this makes this clash a do or die affair because should we win we stand a good chance of going to the quarterfinals and if we lose then our chances have decreased drastically. We could also make history by winning our first match at the Olympics,” said Pauw.

Despite China losing by a big margin to the hosts, the Banyana Banyana mentor believes they still can’t be taken lightly.

“We have been monitoring China for a while now, and seeing them play Brazil didn’t give us anything new. They are technically sound and very mobile, they are not strong physically but can move the ball around and that is what we need to guard against - if we give them openings they can break us, so we have to work hard to put them under pressure and not allow them to play, and that will be half the job done.” added Pauw.

She adds that at the moment their greatest challenge is getting the players ready emotionally.

“We are trying to get the body ready emotionally because we have built it for eight months to the first game against Sweden, now it is gone, we have rebuild it for the next match and we only have two day in-between to do that, that is the biggest challenge, not so much if we can play but if we can do it again. Physically we will be fine but are we emotionally ready, that is the key issue. But I believe we are ready,” said Pauw.

Kickoff against China is at 19h00 local time (midnight SA time).