Banyana set sights on elusive World Cup
Ranked fourth on the continent, Banyana Banyana are undoubtedly one of the powerhouses of African women's football but making their maiden Fifa World Cup appearance remains elusive.
It is because of this that Banyana captain Janine van Wyk, 31, emphasised the significance of excelling at the African Women's Cup of Nations, to be hosted by Ghana from November 17 to December 1.
"It's an emotional tournament because for some of us it might be our last opportunity to play at the World Cup. I strongly believe that this is the team that will take us to the our first World Cup," said Van Wyk at the final squad announcement event at Safa House yesterday.
"We have a number of players who have been in the squad for so long, players with over 100 caps. It's important that we execute our game plan and deliver to make sure we go to the World Cup in France," noted Van Wyk who has over 150 Banyana caps.
Only a top-three finish in Ghana would see coach Desiree Ellis's troops book their maiden World Cup ticket. Banyana are in Group B alongside defending champions Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya. They begin their campaign against the Super Falcons on November 18.
Apart from playing to make the nation proud, players have been promised bumper bonuses by the team's main sponsor Sasol.
For just participating, the 21 players will share R840 000. Winning the tournament would see each player pocket R120 000, while finishing as runners-up guarantees each player R75 000. Should they come third, each player will get R60 000. This was confirmed by Safa council member Natasha Tsichlas yesterday.
Ellis surprisingly snubbed Australian-based in-form striker Rhoda Mulaudzi and declined to give her reasons to omit the Canberra United forward.
"It was a difficult task to pin down the final 21 players as they all raised their hands to show how much they want to be part of this magnificent team. But I am confident that the players we have chosen will do the business," said Ellis.
Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart, Roxanne Barker
Defenders: Lebogang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Janine van Wyk, Noko Matlou, Bambanani Mbane, Tiisetso Makhubela, Koketso Tlailane.
Midfielders: Kgaelebane Mohlakoana, Mamello Makhabane, Leandra Smeda, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Linda Motlhalo, Busisiwe Ndimeni and Refiloe Jane.
Strikers: Jermaine Seoposenwe, Thembi Kgatlana, Melinda Kgadiete, Amanda Mthandi