Football

Leandra Smeda: Banyana star hungry for success with Famalicao

Following her impressive debut in Portugal, the South Africa international is poised to inspire her side to domestic glory

Leandra Smeda is hungry for success with Famalicao after her winning debut in Portuguese football against Gil Vicente.

The South Africa international joined the top-flight newcomers on a one-year deal as a free agent in November since after breaking ties with Swedish Damallsvenskan outfit, Vittsjo.

The Banyana star went on to make her debut as a 61st-minute substitute in Famalicao’s 3-1 win over Vicente on January 3.

Following her winning start in Portugal, the 31-year-old winger has opened up on the exciting opportunity to continue her professional career in Europe.

“The move means a lot to me. Previously I played in Sweden and I had the option to renew my contract but the offer was not what I wanted,” Smeda told Goal.

“So I waited for something else [new offer] to come up during the summer and then this move happened. I am happy and grateful for this opportunity. 

“I think the offer came out of the blue. My agent reached out to me on a fateful day that the team is interested and asked if I was interested. I said yes.

“I’ve never played in Portugal obviously, so, it’s a new challenge for me. And Jermaine [Seoposenwe] is also here [in Portugal].

“At least, there will be someone I know here. So I embraced the challenge. Hopefully, I can help the team finish as high as possible and maintain their status in their first season.”

Unbeaten Famalicao finished their first-round on top of the northern zone in her maiden top-flight season with 27 points to guarantee a spot in the second phase.

And Smeda has explained how she is adapting to life on-and-off the field in the southern European country, while sharing her dreams to excel with Famalicao.

“I saw that team also had a good start and currently unbeaten this season. Obviously, they will want to maintain their good form,” she continued.

“My time at Gintra was good for me. I think it’s the same situation here as there are not a lot of English speaking people on the team.

“That experience has really helped me to adapt to the situation. In Sweden, the league there was quite different from, that of Lithuanian as it’s quite competitive and physical.

“That experience is also helping me adapt to the style of the coach in Portugal. Since I arrived here last November, I’ve been training with the team.

“I am integrating into the team very well and quite eager to get some game time in the second round of the season. 

“Hopefully, I can do well and bring the experiences from Lithuania and Sweden to bear in helping the team succeed this season.

“In the Cup game, they lost 2-1 to SL Benfica. It showed that can compete with the top teams.

“There are a few things will need to work on but I think the team has what it takes to challenge for silverware this season. 

“If not this season, then the next one. It’s a young team. They are hungry for success and desire to be among the top three teams.”

In 2018, Smeda started her professional career with Lithuanian giants Gintra Universitetas, where she became the first South Africa to play in the Uefa Women’s Champions League.

She moved to Sweden in 2019, joining Vittsjo, where she helped the club to a first-ever medal win, finishing third in the Damalsvenskan.

Smeda and Famalicao will now continue their quest for the league crown against southern zone winners Sporting CP on Saturday evening. 

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