Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has insisted that the 23-player squad she selected for the upcoming African Women’s Cup of Nations is the strongest available.
Durban — Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has insisted that the 23-player squad she selected for the upcoming African Women’s Cup of Nations in Morocco next month is the strongest available.
Ellis named a squad which contains a balance of youth and experience. One of the absentees is Mamlodi Sundowns stars Andisiwe Mgcoyi and Rhoda Mulaudzi.
“There are a lot of players that could have made the squad but we trust the players that we have selected. I am not saying that there are not good players out there. It’s the way that we want to play that enables how we select the squad.
“I select based on what I see. A lot of players fit into the way we want to play. We needed a lot of versatility,” said Ellis.
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Ellis insisted that the competition for places meant that Mgcoyi is not the only talented player to have missed out. The 34-year-old has been in sterling form for Sundowns lately and due to her age, could well never feature in the national team colours again.
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“There are many other players who have missed out. Based on the way that we want to play, we had to select players that we think will do the job for us. There are many other players who could have made the squad and they are not here,” said Ellis.
After finishing as runners-up in the 2018 event to Nigeria, Banyana Banyana will be aiming to go one better in North Africa next month and win the tournament for the first time.
Should Banyana gain at least a semi-final berth, they will claim one of the four automatic qualification spots that Africa has been handed to the 2023 Women’s Football World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
SAFA President Danny Jordaan also recently announced that should Banyana win the tournament, they will be rewarded with a collective R9.2 million bonus which will represent the highest figure ever paid out to a South African national football team.
Meanwhile, one important player who will miss out on Banyana’s Awcon campaign is Gabriela Salgado. The 24-year-old’s absence through injury will be a blow as she had established herself as an important player for Ellis’ side in recent times.
“She has grown in leaps and bounds for Banyana and at club level. There is nothing we could’ve asked of her not to deliver. She’s a five in one player and excels in whatever role she is put in.
“Her injury is unfortunate but also opens the door for someone else,” said Ellis.