The bigger picture for Banyana is to give a special send-off to vice-captain Refiloe Jane who led the team to victory at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo
BANYANA Banyana will be hoping to begin their Cosafa Women’s Championship title defence on a high note when they meet Madagascar in the tournament opener in Port Elizabeth today (3.30pm).
The regional tournament that will commence today and run until September 22, will be hosted by the South Africans in Port Elizabeth at Wolfson Stadium and Gelvandale.
Banyana have won the tournament on four occasions and last year’s triumph in Zimbabwe marked the country’s new record as coach Desiree Ellis became the first sportsperson to claim the silverware as player and coach.
In ensuring that they walked victorious in front of their supporters, Ellis has assembled arguably the team’s best squad for the competition that include US-based trio Janine van Wyk, Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana, who’s the current Player of the Tournament.
Banyana’s true character will be tested as early as the group stage as their opponent also includes Nambia – who have the talented Chawinga sisters, Tabitha and Temwa that ply their trade in China and Sweden – and neighbours Botswana. Should they manage to top the group, or make it as the best runners-up, that’s when they’ll really have to dig deep as Cameroon and Zambia will be likely waiting for them.
Cameroon and Zambia are favourites to take position one and two in group B, as they, together with Banyana, will be using the tournament as preparations for the upcoming Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, in a venue yet to be announced.
The Northern Africans, The Indomitable Lionesses and Uganda, the third and 22nd ranked nations in the continent, have been invited to participate in the tournament as intensifiers.
The bigger picture for Banyana though, is to give a special send-off to vice-captain Refiloe Jane who led the team to victory at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo.
Jane recently concluded a move to Australian outfit Canberra United, together with Rhoda Mulaudzi.