stepping up

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

Instead of sending Banyana Banyana to the Cosafa Women's Championships in Angola next month, the Under-20 national women's team, Basetsana, will represent South Africa.

This is to give the girls a chance to prepare for the Under-20 Fifa Women's World Cup qualifying match against the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Caledonian Stadium in Tshwane on May 31.

"I'm confident that we will not let the country down as a replacement for Banyana Banyana," says team coach Anna Monate.

"With seven of our players already regulars in Banyana Banyana, I think we will have a good run in the Cosafa tournament.

"We are so humbled by the gesture to give the U-20s the honour of playing on behalf of Banyana. But this is a serious competition which South Africa has won consecutively since its inception in 2002 in Zimbabwe."

Still on women's football, coach Augustine Makalakalane's Under-17 national team kicks off their World Cup qualifying campaign away to Cameroon on Saturday.

"We know that the hosts will not make it easy for us, but our players will have to fight if South Africa is to qualify for the World Cup in New Zealand in November," says Makalakalane.

"Our strength is that the Under-17 players are together continuously - based at the High Performance Centre [in Tshwane] - so they won't be meeting for the first time.

"They live, eat and train together. They are sisters off the field and teammates on it."