Banyana Banyana gear up for USA

Janine van Wyk. / BackpagePix / Sydney Mahlangu
Janine van Wyk. / BackpagePix / Sydney Mahlangu

Banyana Banyana captain Janine van Wyk has downplayed the notion that their international friendly away to the USA on Sunday is a platform for new players to contest for World Cup spots.

After this showdown at Levi's Stadium in California (10.30pm SA time), coach Desiree Ellis is expected to announce her final World Cup squad comprising 23 players.

"I do not think the players are viewing this match as a battle for places in the final squad. The focus is on the task at hand. Everyone knows that whoever the coach selects will be the best possible choice to represent our country,'' Van Wyk insisted.

The new faces for the USA clash are keeper Mapaseka Mpuru, defender Charmelle Wiltshire and midfielder Nomvula Kgoale.

The trio was not part of Banyana's last match, a 1-1 draw in another friendly at home to Jamaica last month.

"There's a lot of new faces in the team and a lot of youngsters as well . they will be given an opportunity [to play] ... even if they are not included in the squad, they still have years ahead of them to qualify for World Cups and participate in them,'' said Van Wyk.

Meanwhile, Sweden-based Leandra Smeda as well as Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana, who both ply their trade in China, are not in the squad due to club commitments as the fixture does not fall under the Fifa calendar.

As USA are the reigning world champions and are ranked the No 1 side in the globe, Van Wyk admitted this high-profile fixture will be one of Banyana's trickiest tests yet.

"We know it's going to be one of the toughest matches we have played in a very long time. Obviously, all opponents that we've faced before have prepared us for this moment.''

The Banyana defender also implied they might be tempted to deploy a defensive approach, feeling a positive result against a side of USA's calibre would go a long way in boosting their morale ahead of their maiden World Cup.

"They [USA] are lethal and ruthless in front of goal; the aim is to just close them down from the first whistle,'' said Van Wyk.

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