BANYANA BANYANA’S most decorated player, Portia Modise, is looking to put the past behind her and help South Africa’s women’s football team get close to an Olympic medal in London later this year.
Modise has been in the international wilderness since an altercation with then-Banyana coach Augustine Makalakalane, who she and a few of her teammates accused of sexual harassment and homophobia.
But the former Africa Women’s Player of the Year has been recalled by Makalakalane’s successor, Joseph Mkhonza, for Banyana’s training camp at Stellenbosch University ahead of the London Games in July.
“She has always been on our minds, but we wanted to see her in a competitive match for the Super Falcons, where she did very well. But it doesn’t mean that she is in the team. She has got to fight and work hard like all the other players,” Mkhonza said after taking the team through their paces in Stellenbosch yesterday.
Modise, who played in Europe for many years, didn’t want to say much about her time out. But she is keen to remind South Africans of just what we have missed out on over the last two years. “I don’t want to concentrate on that. That is the past, and I’m concentrating on the future, and I don’t want those things that happened a few years ago to disturb me,” Modise told the Cape Times yesterday. “I want to show off my skill again and show people what I can do.”
However, the 2006 African Women’s Cup Player of the Tournament knows that she is not going to waltz into the 18-member squad on reputation alone, especially as Mkhonza has left the door open for players outside the current training squad.
“The competition in the camp is fierce and I have to work harder. We all have to work harder for a place in the team. If I make it to the Games, it will be a dream come true,” she added.
Mkhonza is again going on the road to Mpumalanga tomorrow to try and bolster his squad for the Games. It seems the Banyana coach is happy with the spine of the team, but he is looking to find more talent to have a real crack at an Olympic medal.
“The door is not closed. Any player who catches the eye, and that we feel deserve to be in the national team, will be given a chance to fight for a place in the Olympic squad,” he said.
“It’s going to be a difficult decision cutting the squad to 18. But at least we have our key players, players that form the spine of the national team. But we also need to give other players a chance, because you want to take the best team to the Olympics.”