Thembi Kgatlana, the current Caf Women’s Player of the Year, and Jermaine Seoposenwe, one of only four players in the squad to have played in a World Cup before with the junior national teams, were the usual suspects in Ellis’s sharpshooters’ group announced at Safa House in Nasrec.
Ode Fulutudilu and Rhoda Mulaudzi, who are based in Spain and Australia respectively, make their return to the national squad for a major event after missing out on the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations tournament, where Banyana sealed their spot to the global showpiece in France.
Amanda Mthandi, who had an impressive Awcon, is the only locally-based player named up front.
Considering that Ellis’s troops are winless in their last eight preparation matches this year, it will be important that her sharpshooters put on their scoring boots in Group B, especially against the likes of Germany, Spain and China, who are ranked second, 13th and 16th in the world.
Ellis has named a decent looking line-up in the engine room that also contains several overseas-based players – vice-captain Refiloe Jane, Nothando Vilakazi, Linda Motlhalo, and Lendra Smeda, who ply their trade in Australia, Lithuania, China and Sweden respectively.
However, it is pleasing to see Ellis blending fresh blood with the old guns as she has also named Sibulele Karabo, Karabo Dhlamini and Bongeka Gamede, who recently played in the Fifa Under-17s Women’s World Cup in Uruguay late last year.
The noticeable omission to the team, though, is that of Nompumelelo Nyandeni, who has had stints in Russia before. The 55-year-old coach didn’t want to go into detail about the omission of the player, referring the question to the heartfelt statement she made in her opening remarks before announcing the squad, which spoke about “not being able to select everyone, while also having to choose a team that’s going to leave a legacy”.
Ellis’s defence is pretty solid as she has named her usual big guns who were in the triumphant Awcon tournament in Ghana last year.
There is, however, a newbie among the goalkeepers as she has included Mapaseka Mpuru, who will be playing third fiddle to Andile Dlamini and Kaylin Swart.
With the global showpiece scheduled to take place from June 7-July 7, Banyana will play their last warm-up game against Norway on June 2.
Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart and Mapaseka Mpuru
Defenders: Lebogang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Noko Matlou. Janine van Wyk, Bambanani Mbane, Bongeka Gamede and Tiisetso Makhubela
Midfielders: Refiloe Jane, Mamello Makhabane, Karabo Dlamini, Leandra Smeda, Kholosa Biyana, Busisiwe Ndimeni, Sibulele Holweni and Linda Motlhalo
Strikers: Rhoda Mulaudzi, Amanda Mthandi, Thembi Kgatlana, Jermaine Seoposenwe and Ode Fulutudilu
Independent on Saturday