Desiree Ellis believes 2018 is going get even bigger for her Banyana team. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Fresh off their successful Cosafa Women’s Championship title defence, Banyana Banyana will travel to Chile to face the host nation in two international friendly matches.

The first fixture will take place on Saturday, October 6, at Estadio Sausalito in Vina del Mar – Chile’s fourth largest city. The second clash will follow three days later on Tuesday, October 9, at Estadio Santa Laura in the capital Santiago.

The fixtures are part of Banyana’s preparation for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournament scheduled for November in Ghana – which will serve as qualifiers for the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup qualifiers to be played in France in June.

“We could not have asked for better preparation for a tournament of the magnitude of Afcon. We have just come out of a successful Cosafa Women’s Championship, now we are heading into the unknown that is Chile. It is important to play these top nations so that we maintain the momentum from the Cosafa tournament all the way to the Afcon,” said Banyana coach Desiree Ellis.

“We have said this was a very important year for Banyana Banyana, and the preparations have to be spot on if we want to qualify for the one tournament that has always eluded us – the Fifa World Cup, because in all honestly, we have a very good team that should be able to qualify for major events. Also, for some of the players this is the last chance to play in a World Cup, so we have to make it count this year. Gratitude goes once again to Safa and our sponsors Sasol for making it all possible.”

This will be the first-ever meeting between the two nations. South Africa has already faced some of the top footballing countries including the USA, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Belgium, Japan, Brazil and China.

The squad assembles for camp on Monday, October 1, and departs the next day for Chile. They return to South Africa on Thursday, October 11. Ellis has announced a squad of 22 players for the two matches.

She has kept the bulk of the squad that has just won the 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship. Lithuania-based midfielder, Leandra Smeda and Bloemfontein Celtic striker Melinda Kgadiete make a return, as well as Koketso Tlailane and Rachel Sebati (both TUT-PTA).

After a long absence from the national team Finland-based striker Ode Fulutudilu also received a call-up. Players released after the Cosafa Women’s Championship are Chuene Morifi, Gabriela Salgado and Thato Letsoso.

Banyana squad:

Goalkeepers: Kaylin Swart, Roxanne Barker, Andile Dlamini. Defenders: Lebogang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Janine van Wyk, Bambanani Mbane, Regina Mogolola, Noko Matlou, Koketso Tlailane. Midfielders: Kgaelebane Mohlakoana, Kholoso Biyana, Refiloe Jane, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Linda Motlhalo, Leandra Smeda, Rachel Sebati. Forwards: Jermaine Seoposenwe, Khanya Xesi, Melinda Kgadiete, Thembi Kgatlana, Ode Fulutudilu. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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