Banyana Banyana during a training session. They are set to play Netherlands and Sweden. Photo: safa.net

JOHANNESBURG  Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has announced a squad of 26 players to feature in two international friendly matches early in the new year against the Netherlands and Sweden in Cape Town.

Both matches will kickstart preparations for the 2019 Women’s World Cup tournament, which takes place from June 7 to July 7 in France.

Ellis has kept the bulk of the squad that participated in the 2018 Women’s Afcon in Ghana earlier this month, and saw Banyana qualify for their first-ever World Cup.

Two players have been omitted, with seven brought in.

Victoria Murua, Molatelo Sebata, Karabo Dlamini, Kholosa Biyana, Kelso Peskin, Hilda Magaia and Rhoda Mulaudzi have been called up.

Sebata is the only player receiving her first call up to Banyana, while Murua has been part of a training camp for the national team. Both were again spotted at the recently-ended Sasol League National Champs in Kimberley.

Magaia and Biyana missed out on the Women’s Afcon as they were stand-by players.

Dlamini, who currently plays for the Under-17 and Under-20 Women’s teams, was called up to camp when Banyana played Lesotho in the 2018 Women’s Afcon qualifiers.

Missing out from the Afcon squad are Kgaelebane Mohlakoana and Melinda Kgadiete.

“We always look at players raising their hands and if they do then we need to see how they cope in camp and against better opposition,” said Ellis.

“The players know that their places in the squad are not for keeps and need to consistently keep the levels high to remain in the squad, as there are players not in the team and working hard to get a look in.

“The whole year we have given players  opportunities and we will consistently do that. We have a couple of months before the start of the World Cup and a lot can happen – loss of form, injury, or players unavailable due to other reasons – so it is important to always have enough cover for every position.”

Banyana will first take on Netherlands in the Winnie Madikizela–Mandela Inauguration Challenge on January 19 at the Cape Town Stadium.

A closed-door training match against Sweden will precede this clash, and will be played on January 17.

Three days later (Tuesday) they face Sweden at the same venue. 

Banyana squad: 

Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart, Roxanne Barker, Victoria Muroa.

Defenders: Lebogang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakzi, Janine van Wyk, Noko Matlou, Bambanani Mbane, Tiisetso Makhubela, Koketso Tlailane.

Midfielder: Karabo Dhlamini, Mamello Makhabane, Leandra Smeda, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Linda Motlhalo, Busisiwe Ndimeni, Refiloe Jane, Molatelo Sebata, Kholosa Biyana, Hildah Magaia.

Forward: Kelso Peskin, Amanda Mthandi, Jermaine Seoposenwe, Rhoda Malaudzi.  

African News Agency (ANA)