Banyana coach Desiree Ellis to use Cosafa Cup in PE next month to prepare for Afcon
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has announced a strong squad of 20 players for Cosafa Women’s Championship in Port Elizabeth next month which includes Janine van Wyk‚ Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana of Houston Dash in the US.
They trio last featured for the senior national team in March during at the Cyprus Women’s Cup‚ where Kgatlana was voted the player of the tournament‚ and Ellis said their availability of a huge boost.
Ellis has kept the bulk of the squad that played in the Banyana Banyana’s last match against neighbours Lesotho during the Afcon qualifier with Thato Letsoso as the only new cap.
“We are delighted to have the trio back with us after such a long absence from the squad and this is the best news ahead of this tournament‚” she said during the announcement at Safa House on Monday.
“We hope their experience will be valuable to the squad in our quest to build a solid foundation ahead of the Afcon tournament later this year‚” said Ellis.
Van Wyk is the highest capped player in the squad with 149 caps and 11 goals and she will reach the magical 150 when she steps onto the field during the tournament.
While Van Wyk‚ Motlhalo and Kgatlana have been confirmed‚ Ellis has been denied the services of winger Leandra Smeda due to club commitments.
Smeda‚ who recently joined Lithuanian side FK Gintra-Universitetas‚ is involved in the Uefa Women’s Champions League qualifiers after her side proceeded to the round of 32 and he place has been replaced by the uncapped Letsoso of the University of Johannesburg.
“I guess you can’t have it all. While we are getting three players from the USA‚ we are also losing an influential player due to club commitments‚ but on the other hand this is a chance for other players to raise their hands and close the gap. We can only wish her luck in her new endeavors‚ hopefully she will be back with us for the big one‚ the Afcon‚” added Ellis.
The other good news for Banyana Banyana is that vice captain Refiloe Jane‚ who has just been snapped up by Canberra United in Australia‚ is available for the tournament.
South Africa will use the tournament to prepare for the Afcon tournament which is just two months away.
“First of all we have to do well as the defending champions‚ secondly we are playing at home and the pressure is on us‚ and lastly‚ but perhaps more importantly‚ this is a good opportunity for us to gel our squad in good physical condition to prepare for Afcon. The longer we stay in the Cosafa Cup the more we will get our players to gel ahead of the Ghana mission. In short we will use Cosafa to fine tune our squad for Afcon‚” said Ellis.
Banyana Banyana Squad Goalkeepers: Kaylin Swart (Menlo College USA)‚ Roxanne Barker (USC Ladies)‚ Andile Dlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns) Defenders: Lebohang Ramalepe (Ma-Indies)‚ Nothando Vilakazi (Falcons FC)‚ Janine van Wyk (c) Houston Dash USA)‚ Bambanani Mbane (Bloemfontein Celtic)‚ Regina Mogolola (TUKS) Midfielders: Kgaelebane Mohlakoana (Celtic)‚ Kholosa Biyana (Uni KZN)‚ Refiloe Jane (Canberra)‚ Thato Letsoso (Uni JHB)‚ Nompumelelo Nyandeni (JVW)‚ Hildah Magaia (TUT-PTA)‚ Linda Motlhalo‚ Thembi Kgatlana (Houston Dash) Strikers: Jermaine Seoposenwe (JVW)‚ Melinda Kgadiete (Bloemfontein)‚ Chantelle Esau (Sundowns Ladies)‚ Noko Matlou (Ma-Indies)
Stand-By: Zanele Nhlapo Mamelodi (Sundowns Ladies)‚ Tiisetso Makhubela (Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies)‚ Salome Kekana (TUT-PTA)‚ Khanya Xesi (UWC FC)