Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis admits that it was a “difficult task” in picking the final 21-player squad for the Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON), but sprung a surprise by choosing two uncapped players for the Ghana tournament.
Striker Amanda Mthandi of the University of Johannesburg and defender Tiisetso Makhubela of Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies were the two new faces in the squad that will do duty from November 17 until December 1, where they will face Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia.
Arguably the biggest name to be left out was midfielder Rachel Sebati, who started in Banyana Banyana’s 2-2 draw with Chile in Santiago last month.
Sebati is one of four standby players, alongside Kholosa Biyana, Thato Letsoso and Hilda Magaia, who will travel with the team to Ghana ahead of an international friendly against the host nation on November 11, before returning home.
“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,” Ellis said on Wednesday.
“But I am confident that the players we have chosen will do the business for South Africa. Too many times we have close to winning the tournament, and I think with the preparations we have had, we feel ready for the competition.”
Banyana need to finish in the top three of the tournament to qualify for the Women’s World Cup next year in France.
Banyana Banyana Squad
Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart, Roxanne Barker.
Defenders: Lebogang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Janine van Wyk (captain), Noko Matlou, Bambanani Mbane, Tiisetso Makhubela, Koketso Tlailane.
Midfielders: Kgaelebane Mohlakoana, Mamello Makhabane, Leandra Smeda, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Linda Motlhalo, Busisiwe Ndimeni, Refiloe Jane.
Strikers: Jermaine Seoposenwe, Thembi Kgatlana, Melinda Kgadiete, Amanda Mthandi.
Banyana Group Matches (SA times)
18 November: Nigeria (5.30pm), Cape Coast
21 November: Kenya (8.30pm), Cape Coast
24 November: Zambia (6pm), Accra Stadium