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Banyana bolstered by the upsurge of footballers plying their trade abroad

FILE - Banyana Banyana’s Thembi Kgatlana in action during a friendly international against Botswana. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

FILE - Banyana Banyana’s Thembi Kgatlana in action during a friendly international against Botswana. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Jun 19, 2022

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Cape Town — The upsurge of South African women footballers plying their trade abroad has bolstered the tenacity in the ranks of Banyana Banyana.

South African superstar Thembi Kgatlana who plays for four-time Spanish Primera División champions Atlético Madrid feels it is time to end the domination of Nigeria's Super Falcons. The Nigerians are 11-time winners of TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON).

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Kgatlana will be leading South Africa's national women's team Banyana Banyana at the upcoming WAFCON in Morocco starting on Saturday 2 July. She is one of several players who are playing abroad and Kgatlana said this will serve Banyana Banyana in good stead.

"Things are starting to look good and exciting for Banyana because we have a number of overseas-based players," said Kgatlana in an interview with CAF (Confederation of African Football). "Being professionals at clubs aboard, means they are training every day, physically and mentally, at a high level.

“I think for a number of years Banyana Banyana have not exported a lot of players overseas and that has given Nigeria and other teams the upper hand because they were able to export players."

Banyana Banyana are in Group C with defending champions Nigeria, Burundi and neighbours Botswana. Their opening match is against the Super Falcons on Saturday 4 July, and Kgatlana feels Nigeria is there for the taking.

“We don’t have to undermine anyone, it’s football and everyone is there to show what they can do," said Kgatlana.

"In our group, there are two debutants and it is going to be a challenge to be disciplined. We must still be able to bring our A-game even when we play teams that are lower ranked than us.

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“I mean getting into the quarter or semi-finals for us is just taking one game at a time. We don’t want to say we’re gonna do this, do that and when things don’t happen, we hold ourselves with a gun to the head.

"But taking one game at a time is what will help us. That is the same mentality we had in 2018 and the important thing was getting the results that we needed."

Another foreign-based player who will bolster Banyana Banyana's ranks is the Portugal-based Jermaine Seoposenwe has been called back into the South Africa senior national women’s team.

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The Sporting Braga sharpshooter has not played for her country since 2020 due to travel hitches that kept her in the European country.

Seoposenwe is one of nine foreign-based players that have made it into the squad preparing for Morocco.

Apart from Kgatlana and Seoposenwe, the other foreign-based players in the squad are Refiloe Jane, Nomvula Kgoale, Noko Matlou, Kholosa Biyana and Lebohang Ramalepe.

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Linda Motlhalo (Djurgardens, Sweden) and Hildah Magaia (Sejong Sportstoto, South Korea) have also been called but are yet to join the team because the domestic season in the two countries is still in progress.

Ellis had called up 33 players for the selection and preparation camp, but the squad has now been cut down to 26 players ahead of the final selection to be confirmed at a press conference at SAFA House on Monday.

The preparation camp has also been boosted by the arrival of overseas-based players.

Banyana Banyana have intensified their training, and the 33-man squad has been reduced to 26 players. The final selection will be confirmed at a press conference at SAFA House on Monday.

The players released from the camp are Rhoda Mulaudzi, Reitumetse Chabana, Lonathemba Mhlongo (Injured), Cimone Sauls and Lelona Daweti.

@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport

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