JOHANNESBURG – Three players who featured in recent international friendlies have not made the cut in the 23-player SA football squad to play at the Cyprus Women’s Cup, which runs from February 27 to March 6.
Coach Desiree Ellis has left out goalkeeper Jessica Williams, forward Kelso Peskin and midfielder Hildah Magaia.
“The battle for places in the final squad for the World Cup is becoming tighter and tighter as we get closer to the tournament.
"Starting with the Cyprus Cup, we will be travelling with only 23 players, which is the number that we will take to France as per regulations,” said Ellis.
“But make no mistake, this is by no means the World Cup squad, even though it is very close to what we will select. The tournament only kicks off in June and anything can happen.
"So this is a wake-up call to whoever is not in the squad because the door is never closed to anyone until the announcement of the final squad.
"But players must also bear in mind that you don’t want to make too many changes so close to the competition unless there is still some exceptional talent out there that we haven’t selected.”
The annual Cyprus Cup is part of South Africa’s preparation for the Fifa Women’s World Cup tournament, which will be held in France from June 7 to July 7.
Banyana Banyana, who finished in sixth place last year – their highest-ever finish – will face Finland, the Czech Republic and Korea DPR in Group A.
“Recently we played the Netherlands and Sweden, and now we are gearing up for Finland, the Czech Republic and Korea DPR at the Cyprus Women’s Cup," said Ellis.
"This is a great way to prepare for the World Cup as all these teams, even though some are similar, have contrasting styles of play, and that is just what we need ahead of such a big tournament,” said Ellis.
“Next on the list after the Cyprus Cup will be a battle against the world champions, USA, and by then we should know exactly where we are in terms of readiness."
Banyana Banyana will assemble at their camp on Wednesday, February 20, and will depart for Cyprus on Saturday, February 23.
The SA Women's squad:
Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies), Kaylin Swart, Victoria Muroa (First Touch Academy)
Defenders: Lebogang Ramamalepe (Ma-Indies), Nothando Vilakazi (Palace Super Falcons), Janine Van Wyk, Noko Matlou (Ma-Indies FC), Bambanani Mbane (Bloenfontein Celtic Ladies), Tiisetso Makhubela (Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies), Koketso Tlailane (TUT-PTA), Karabo Dhlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies)
Midfielders: Mamello Makhabane (JVW FC), Leandra Smeda (Vittsjo GIK), Nompumelelo Nyandeni (JVW FC), Busisiwe Ndimeni (TUT-PTA), Linda Motlhalo (Houston Dash), Refiloe Jane (Canberra United), Molatelo Sebata (First Touch Academy), Kholosa Biyana (University of KwaZulu Natal)
Strikers: Jermaine Seoposenwe (JVW FC), Thembi Kgatlana (Houston Dash), Amanda Mthandi (University of Johannesburg), Rhoda Mulaudzi (Canberra United)
African News Agency (ANA)