“Playing a tournament of this nature and with the quality of Cameroon coming here, will add a lot of value in our preparations.”
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis oozes confidence that they should be able to retain their Cosafa Cup title, especially with the morale boost of the availability of overseas-based players.
These include Houston Dash trio Janine van Wyk, Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana. Banyana will host the regional tournament in Port Elizabeth from September 12-22.
“It’s important that we select the best that we can,” said Ellis during the squad announcement yesterday. “It’s always a difficult selection, to be honest, the worst part is telling someone that they didn’t make it. We are very grateful the experience is there, and we hope this tournament can give ‘Fifi’ (Refiloe Jane) a very good send-off as she going to Canberra United in Australia.”
Van Wyk, Motlhalo and Kgatlana were all in action for the Dash over the weekend as they recorded a 6-1 win over Sky Blue FC in their last home fixture of the season. Motlhalo opened the scoring with her first goal of the season, while Kgatlana also got her name on the scoresheet after a lovely solo run.
“They had a very good weekend, so they come with good form,” Ellis insisted. “And I believe that will help the national team throughout the tournament. Kgatlana is the current Cosafa Cup Player of the Tournament, so you can imagine the wealth of experience she brings together with captain Janine. We also welcome the availability of exciting Motlhalo, who’ll fill the void left by injured duo Rachel Sebati and Mamello Makhabane.
Cameroon and Uganda, ranked third and 22nd in Africa, will also join the regional competition as invited guests. They were roped in to increase the intensity of the competition. For Banyana, the Cosafa tournament serves as preparation for this year’s Africa Women’s Cup of Nations tournament.
“It is not only about winning the title, but the tournament also brings confidence to the players ahead of the Awcon,” Ellis insisted. “Playing a tournament of this nature and with the quality of Cameroon coming here, will add a lot of value in our preparations.”
The 12 teamS will be divided into three pools, each containing four teams. The top teams from each pool, together, will the best runners-up, will make the semi-finals.