Home Sport Olympic qualifiers: 25-player Banyana Banyana squad named

Olympic qualifiers: 25-player Banyana Banyana squad named

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Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has named an enlarged 25-member squad for their Caf Women’s Olympic qualifiers this month.

Banyana players take a moment during the Banyana Training on 25 June 2023 at UJ Sports Grounds. File Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has named an enlarged 25-member squad for their Caf Women’s Olympic qualifiers this month to prepare for any eventualities.

Banyana will begin their quest to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics away to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Wednesday (4.30pm). The return leg is on October 30 at Orlando Stadium (3pm).

At the back of a historic World Cup after finishing in the last 16 and still the reigning African Queens after winning Wafcon, Banyana will be the team in the qualifiers.

Ellis, though, is not leaving any stone unturned. At the ongoing Sasol National Championships play-offs in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, she named a 25-player squad instead of the traditional 23.

Sure, all the players have applied for visas but that doesn’t mean they’ll be available for both legs, hence the record-breaking Ellis saw it fit to widen her pool.

Striker Jermaine Seoposenwe is also expected to miss the first due to visa issues, but she should be available for the return leg on home soil later in the month.

It’s exam time in the country, and varsity students are expected to sit for theirs. The University of Western Cape (UWC) duo, Fikile Magama and Bongeka Gamede, for example, will miss a match each.

With injuries also part and parcel of the game, Ellis will know closer to their departure to Central Africa on Sunday who’ll be out due to a medical reason.

“Bongeka is not available for the first leg because she’ll write on the 26th, and Fikile is not available for the second because she’s writing on match-day,” Ellis said.

“But we are confident that we have enough players within our squad to get the (much-needed) results over the two-legged contest.”

Not all is uncertain for Ellis’ team though. Banyna will have some of her regulars at her disposal over the next few days, with overseas-based strikers Thembi Kgatlana and Hildah Magaia already in the country.

And given the importance of scoring an away goal to avoid the calamitous exit in the 2020 qualifiers to Botswana on penalties after failing to score home and away, Ellis urged her team to score.

Meanwhile, the qualifier is set to deliver the swansong for Banyana’s longest serving skipper Janine Van Wyk, who announced her retirement from international football this week.

Banyana full squad:

Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart, Katlego Moletsane

Defenders: Karabo Dhlamini, Fikile Magama, Janine Van Wyk, Faith Nokuthula, Asanda Hadebe, Tiisetso Makhubela, Lonathemba Mhlongo, Bongeka Gamede

Midfielders: Linda Motlhalo, Kholosa Biyana, Nomvula Kgoale, Amogelang Motau, Ayesha Moosa

Forwards: Nicole Michael, Gabriela Salgado, Noxolo Cesane, Melinda Kgadiete, Wendy Shongwe, Hildah Magaia, Thembi Kgatlana, Samkelisiwe Selana, Jermaine Seoposenwe

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