Head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Desiree Ellis, has named 20 players to represent South Africa at the 2019 COSAFA Women’s Championship that will take place in Port Elizabeth from 31 July – 11 August.
South Africa are the defending champions.
Ellis has made six changes to the squad that participated at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
There are no overseas-based players as the competition does not fall on the FIFA Calendar date, with the exception of Spain-based forward Ode Fulutudilu, who is available for the tournament as she is set for a move to a new club.
Missing the action will be Leandra Smeda (Sweden), Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana (both China), Jermaine Seoposenwe and Nothando Vilakazi (both Lithuania) as well as newly-signed Rhoda Muluadzi in Cyprus.
There are three new caps – Priscilla Pesa (Golden Ladies – North West), Shange Sthembile (Durban Ladies – KZN) and Noxolo Cesane (University of Western Cape – Western Cape).
Hilda Magaia (TUT-PTA), who last played for Banyana Banyana in January this year, has been recalled, as well as Robyn Moodaly of JVW FC – she was last in the squad at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Also making her way back into the team is Ongeziwe Ndlangisa (Durban University of Technology – KZN), who was on the preliminary squad for the World Cup.
“We have had to make changes to the squad due to the unavailability of the overseas players – while we would have loved to have everyone available, this also gives a chance to other players to stake their claim in the squad, hence the three new caps in Priscilla, Shange (both were identified at last year’s Sasol League National Champs) and Noxolo (who has been an ever-present in the South African U20 Women’s National Team),” said Ellis.
“Also bear in mind that we are in the new Olympics 2020 and 2023 World Cup cycle, and the COSAFA Cup serves as preparations for the 2020 Olympic qualifier against Botswana at the end of August – so this works in our favour to try out other players and see just how much talent we have going forward.”
Mapaseka Mpuru, Karabo Dhlamini and Sibulele Holweni – who all went to France – were not considered for this year’s COSAFA Cup due to school work.
Banyana Banyana have been drawn in Group A alongside Comoros Islands, Malawi and Madagascar.
Group B contains Zambia, Namibia, Mauritius and Botswana.
Zimbabwe headline Group C, where they will take on Mozambique, Angola and Eswatini.
Only the top team in each pool advances to the semifinals, along with the best second-place finisher.
The tournament will get under way on July 31 when Zimbabwe tackle Angola at the Wolfson Stadium at 10h00, with three matches per day in the first round – that is until August 5, when Group A and C will conclude, and matches played simultaneously.
The semifinals will take place on August 8, with the third-place play-off set for two days later and the final to be contested on August 11.