Mohlakoana likely to fill Banyana void in Afcon final
Without vice-captain Refiloe Jane, who had to return to her Australian club Canberra United, Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis is likely to hand Kgaelebane Mohlakoana a rare start in the Africa Women's Cup of Nations final against Nigeria tomorrow (6pm SA time, live on SuperSport 10).
Jane had been a key member of the squad in Ghana, starting three of four matches en route to the final. It was only against Equatorial Guinea that the 26-year-old attacking midfielder came off the bench for Mohlakoana.
In that match, Mohlakoana, 24, showed glimpses of brilliance. Her exceptional partnership with Busisiwe Ndimeni saw Banyana win the midfield battle, which freed the likes of Linda Motlhalo to surge forward.
Mohlakoana's key strengths are her passing range, vision and physical ability.
Like Jane, the Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies ace is gifted with good technique and ball control.
Missing the final against Nigeria because of club commitments brings mixed emotions for Jane.
The Banyana vice-captain admitted that she was disappointed to miss the decider.
"It is sad that I won't be playing in the final against Nigeria at the weekend. A piece of me wants to play in the final but the other part wants to go and chase my dream of playing pro football overseas," Jane said before leaving the camp in Ghana's capital city, Accra.
Nevertheless, Jane had no doubts that her Banyana teammates can do the job without her services.
"We've got quality players in the team, we've got what it takes to lift the trophy whether I'm here or not," noted Jane.
By reaching the final, Banyana and Nigeria secured their berths at next year's Fifa World Cup in France, which will be SA's first appearance.
The third country to represent Africa at the global spectacle will be known tonight when Mali face Cameroon in the third place play-off (6pm SA time).