File Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

Cape Town - Robyn Moodaly will make her return to the Banyana Banyana squad for Saturday’s clash against world and Olympic champions United States in Chicago.

A product of the Tuks High Performance Centre in Pretoria, Moodaly, who plays for the University of Northwestern Ohio in the US, has struggled with a knee injury following an operation, with a bacterial infection keeping her sidelined for longer.

But now Banyana coach Vera Pauw has thrown the 22-year-old a lifeline and a last chance to prove her fitness for the Rio Olympics.

Pauw named a 25-player squad on Monday for the trip to Illinois, which is a last chance for the team to prove themselves ahead of the Olympic squad announcement on July 14.

Moodaly is a midfielder who was also part of the 2012 London Olympic team as a 17-year-old, and Pauw believes she must be given an opportunity to prove her worth. “Up to this point she had looked doubtful that she will be fit on time, but this past week at training we saw a different perspective. It is now up to her to see if she will be ready to play any part in the Olympics,” Pauw said on the Safa website on Monday.

“The Olympics are the biggest sporting event in the world, so we also need to be sure that she can play her part before we include her in the final list. At the moment it seems as if she is jumping the queue in the squad selection, but she has been working very hard on a daily basis to reach the level that she is at now – and all of that has been happening behind the scenes. Now that she is here with us, we are able to do further assessments and evaluation.”

The squad includes stalwarts such as captain Janine van Wyk, Amanda Dlamini and goalkeeper Roxanne Barker, who was recently signed by Dutch club Heerenveen.

Saturday’s match at the Soldier Field (7pm kickoff SA time) is the first between SA and USA, and it will present the toughest challenge yet faced by Banyana against the world’s best team, who have won three Olympic gold medals.

“To prepare for the Olympics, we have to play the best in the world and who better than the reigning world and Olympic champions. This upcoming match will give us a better indication of our readiness to take on the best at the Rio Olympics in Brazil this August,” said Pauw.

Banyana Banyana come off a tour of The Netherlands, where they lost 1-0 and 2-0 respectively to the Dutch, who featured at the 2015 World Cup for the first time.

Banyana Banyana Squad

Goalkeepers: Roxanne Barker, Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart.

Defenders: Lebohang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Janine van Wyk (captain), Noko Matlou, Lerato Kgasago, Nomathemba Ntsibande, Bambanai Mbane, Lebogang Mabatla.

Midfielders: Mamello Makhabane, Amanda Dlamini, Silindile Ngubane, Refiloe Jane, Leandra Smeda, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Linda Mothalo, Stephanie Malherbe, Robyn Moodaly.

Forwards: Sanah Mollo, Shiwe Nogwanya, Thembi Kgatlana, Chantelle Esau, Jermaine Seoposenwe.

Stand-by: Mapaseka Mpuru, Rhoda Mulaudzi, Bongiwe Thusi.

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Independent Media