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South Africa's Leandra Smeda lauds Sasol League's impact on career breakthrough

Banyana Banyana's midfielder secured her first professional contract in 2018 and admits her Sasol League's experience was helpful

Leandra Smeda has attributed her professional career breakthrough to the good football culture she developed while playing in the Sasol Women's League in South Africa.

The 29-year-old is living her dreams after she signed her first professional contract abroad with Lithuania's giants Gintra Universitetas from South Africa's University of Western Cape in July 2018.

She made history, becoming the first South African to score in a Uefa Women's Champions League match as her goal helped Gintra to a 1-1 draw against Finland's FC Honka in August 2018.

Building on her impressive season, Smeda shone brightly at the 2018 African Women's Cup of Nations in Ghana as South Africa qualified for the Women's World Cup for the first time ever.

Her excellent form in Ghana helped secure another move to Sweden's Damallsvenskan side Vittsjo GIK from Gintra in January 2019 and she is delighted with her rise.

“I’d like to give credit to Sasol as well because the Sasol League taught me to believe in myself and be Limitless," Smeda told Safa.net.

"Now I get to participate in some of the best leagues in the world, competing against world-class footballers.”

Smeda was part of the southern African nation's campaign at the Cyprus Women's Cup in February as they finished in a disappointing 10th place in the 12-team competition.

But the  midfielder is untroubled by their forgettable outing in Cyprus as she harps on the lessons and experience gained from taking part in the tournament.

“It’s such a privilege to have a chance to play overseas, especially in a World Cup year where one can really use their experience to enhance their performance," she continued.

"It is life changing because now when you play in tournaments such as the Cyprus Women’s Cup, you know the kind of opponents you are facing. Experience really is the best way to learn.”

South Africa look to continue their preparations with a high-profile international friendly against France-bound Jamaica on April 7 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.