Home Sport Depleted Banyana Banyana team can take down the DRC says confident Desiree...

Depleted Banyana Banyana team can take down the DRC says confident Desiree Ellis

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There are life’s little eventualities and inconveniences, such as visa issues, exam schedules and injuries to some of Desiree Ellis Banyana Banyana’s key players.

Desiree Ellis will be without key players for their trip to DRC. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

SAFA president Danny Jordaan has backed Banyana Banyana to do well in the 2024 CAF Olympic qualifiers, despite the challenges they are facing.

Banyana will begin their quest to return to the quadrennial showpiece against the DRC away on Wednesday. The return leg is on Monday. And having had a memorable year, including making it to the Round of 16 at the World Cup, the reigning Queens of Africa will be the team to beat in the qualifiers.

But coach Desiree Ellis faces some challenges. There are life’s little eventualities and inconveniences, such as visa issues, exam schedules and injuries to some of her key players. Mexican-based striker Jermaine Seoposenwe will likely be available for the second leg, Fikile Magama has an exam next Monday, while Refiloe Jane is injured.

Those unforeseen events have made an impact on Ellis’ preparations but she has done her best to ensure that they do not stutter, naming a 25-member squad instead of the traditional 23 last week in Bloemfontein.

“We have so many university players in the Banyana team and many of them are now writing final exams, there are withdrawals and injuries,” Jordaan said.

“And that’s why I asked the coach whether she still had enough (to win the games). And she said yes, so I am comfortable that we’ll come away with the win.”

With Ellis resolute that she’s put out all the stops to ensure they come out tops in Kinshasa tomorrow and in Orlando on Monday, Jordaan has ample faith in the 60-year-old.

“I must believe the coach. So, I want to wish them all the best. Congo is not an easy team away from home and they must fight (for the win).”

The upcoming qualifier, for the Paris Games next year, will be important for Banyana that it will also serve as the swansong for long-serving captain Janine van Wyk. The 36-year-old announced her retirement from international football last week, having been part of the Banyana set-up for more than a decade.

And in that period she etched her name in the history books of continental football, becoming the second most capped player in African football with 183 appearances.

As she is one cap behind Egypt’s Ahmed Hassan, Van Wyk will become the highest capped player, male or female, in Africa if she plays against DRC in both matches.

@MihlaliBaleka

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