Banyana Banyana’s planning for next World Cup starts now, says Desiree Ellis

STAR midfielder Linda Motlhalo joined the Banyana squad in Senegal yesterday. Photo: BackpagePix

STAR midfielder Linda Motlhalo joined the Banyana squad in Senegal yesterday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 1, 2024


AFTER their failed Paris Olympics bid, Banyana Banyana have started a rebuilding process which faces its first test at the CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) finals later this year.

The journey goes full circle in the next four days as Banyana, ranked 51st in the world, run out against lowly Senegal (83rd) in two international friendlies in Dakar.

The Sasol-sponsored women’s national team play the Teranga Lionesses this evening at the 10 000-seat Stade Lat Dior. The second clash will be played at the same venue on Tuesday evening.

After travelling for almost 20 hours from South Africa, the reigning African champions arrived in Senegal on Thursday night.

Linda Motlhalo and Thubelihle Shamase joined the squad after flying in yesterday, and later participated in the training session at the match venue.

There were three late withdrawals, though. Hildah Magaia was replaced by Lesego Nkoane from TS Galaxy Queens for medical reasons, while the University of the Western Cape duo of Fikile Magama and Bongeka Gamede are busy with exams, and their slots were taken by the University of Johannesburg’s Shannon Macoma and Ayesha Moosa.

— Banyana_Banyana (@Banyana_Banyana) May 31, 2024

CAF has not decided when Wafcon will be held, but has said it will be later this year, with Morocco again the host.

The schedule was disrupted because of the Olympic Games, which will feature two African women’s teams in late July.

Nevertheless, Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says the squad must prepare well to defend their crown.

“We just have to be ready and consistently prepare, and make sure that if Wafcon happens, we are ready,” said Ellis.

— Banyana_Banyana (@Banyana_Banyana) May 31, 2024

“You don’t want to be left hanging and thinking it’s not going to happen, but it’s a couple of months down the line.

“We’re also preparing for the next World Cup. It is two to three years down the line, starting with qualifiers.

“But all the planning starts now. You have got to make sure that you start getting a competitive team ready.”

Banyana Banyana Squad

Goalkeepers: Kaylin Swart, Katlego Moletsane, Dineo Magagula

Defenders: Karabo Dhlamini, Shannon Macomo, Bambanani Mbane, Asanda Hadebe, Lebogang Ramalepe, Tiisetso Makhubela, Lonathemba Mhlongo

Midfielders: Linda Motlhalo, Mmabatho Mogale, Sibulele Holweni, Amogelang Motau, Nonhlanhla Mthandi, Kholosa Biyana, Ayesha Moosa, Lesego Nkoane

Forwards: Thubelihle Shamase, Nicole Michael, Noxolo Cesane, Sinoxolo Cesane, Nthabiseng Majiya

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