South Africa head coach Desiree Ellis has named 23 players to represent Banyana Banyana at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France that runs from June 7-July 7.
Ellis has kept the bulk of the team that won the 2018 COSAFA Cup and was instrumental in the Senior Women’s National Team qualifying for the tournament in Ghana last year, who have a lot of experience but blooded in some number of youngsters in the mix.
She has named two uncapped players, defender Bongeka Gamede, who plays for the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, as well as goalkeeper Mapaseka Mpuru, who is on the books of the University of Pretoria.
Including these two, there are only five players who have made less than 10 appearances each for Banyana Banyana – Tiisetso Makhubela (2), Karabo Dhlamini (5), Sibulele Holweni (1) and Amanda Mthandi (9).
Dhlamini and Holweni will be going to their second World Cup tournament in less than a year – they were part of the U17 Women’s National Team (Bantwana) that competed at the 2018 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay.
The duo makes up four members of the current squad who have World Cup experience – with Kaylin Swart and Jermaine Seoposenwe having played in the tournament in Trinidad and Tobago in 2010 as part of the U17 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
There are four players with over 100 caps – captain Janine van Wyk (166), Noko Matlou (152), Nothando Vilakazi (129) and vice-captain Refiloe Jane (104).
“It was a difficult period to complete the final squad with many players raising their hands, and that is why we left it until late to announce our team. We went with a lot of experience and included some youngsters because we also have to think about the future. I have always believed in the saying that if a player looks ready don’t mind their age, just give them a chance,” said Ellis.
“I have full confidence in the squad that we have selected and I believe we will surprise many at the tournament.”
Banyana Banyana assemble for camp on Wednesday, 22 May in Johannesburg before flying out to France the next day.
They will have one last chance to fine-tune the squad with an international friendly match against Norway on 2 June in Amiens.
Banyana Banyana open their World Cup account with a clash against Spain in Le Havre on 8 June, followed by a fixture against China PR on 13 June in Paris.
The final group stages match will be against Germany on 17 June in Montpellier.
Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart, Mapaseka Mpuru
Defenders: Lebogang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Noko Matlou, Janine van Wyk (captain), Bambanani Mbane, Bongeka Gamede, Tiisetso Makhubela
Midfielders: Refiloe Jane, Mamello Makhabane, Karabo Dlamini, Leandra Smeda, Kholosa Biyana, Busisiwe Ndimeni, Sibulele Holweni, Linda Motlhalo
Strikers: Rhoda Mulaudzi, Amanda Mthandi, Thembi Kgatlana, Jermaine Seoposenwe, Ode Fulutudilu