Interim head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Desiree Ellis, has named a squad of 22 players to face France in an international friendly match scheduled for Sunday, 22 January in Saint-Denis, Reunion Islands.
Kickoff is at 19h00 South African time (21h00 local time).
Ellis has kept the bulk of the squad that did duty at the 2016 CAF Africa Women’s Cup of Nations held recently in Cameroon.
There are only two newcomers – SA u20 international, Gabriela Salgado of JVW FC as well Zenhle Chabaku of Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies FC who was part of the squad that won the 2016 Sasol League National League Championship played earlier this month in Mosselbay, Western Cape.
There is also a recall for defender Lebohang Ramalepe and forwards Bontle Mashilo and Rhoda Mulaudzi, who all missed out on the West Africa tournament.
Ramalepe last played for Banyana Banyana in August at the Olympic Games.
USA-based striker Jermaine Seoposenwe and goalkeeper Roxanne Barker, who plays in Holland, are the only two overseas-based players in the squad.
Ellis says it was important to blood in new players for the way forward.
“The focus was mainly on the players that did duty at the recent Sasol League National Championship where we saw many good players. With no immediate competition or tournament coming up for Banyana Banyana, it was important to introduce new players who will take the team forward,” said Ellis.
“We need to see how much depth we have as a country and there is no better time than now to start implementing that process. Watching some of them play at the national play-offs is way different compared to seeing them line up against the likes of France, in this way we are able to map our way forward.”
The former Banyana Banyana captain added that it does not mean the other players don’t stand a chance anymore.
“This does not in any way mean that those who are not in the current squad are out of the picture, they still feature in the national team but we also have to look ahead to ensure we have a strong base for the future. We know what most of these other players can do, so this is a perfect opportunity to check others. The door can never be closed on any anyone who still has something to offer the national team,” added Ellis.
Midfielders Mamello Makhabane, who was chosen Player of the Tournament and Players’ Player of the Tournament at the 2016 Sasol League National Championship, as well as Amogelang Motau, have been left out due to injury and exams respectively.
Banyana Banyana are expected to start camp either on Friday, 13 January or Sunday, 15 January 2017, but the players have been given a training programme to follow to maintain their fitness levels.
“This is our first match of the year, and since it comes immediately after the festive period, it was important that we device the training programme to keep players in shape because we are well aware that everyone took the much-needed break and has been enjoying family time. But as professional athletes they will have to get back to their training regime. The programme is designed in such a way that by the time the players come for camp they are not too far back with their fitness level. The positive thing is that most players selected in this squad were part of the Olympic Games, the CAF Africa Women’s Cup of Nations as well as the Sasol League National Championship so it won’t be much of a struggle to get back to full fitness,” said Ellis.
The training programme starts on 4th of January until they report for camp.