The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana will hold a training camp from 28 May to 1 June 2017.
The aim of the camp is to have a closer look at some new players and to start preparations for qualification to the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations that will be held in Ghana, as well as the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup that will take place in France.
Stand-in Banyana Banyana heach coach Desiree Ellis has called up several new faces and these are players she has been monitoring over the last few months – and seven of them are coming for the first time to the South African Senior Women’s National Team.
The players are: Koketso Tlailane (TUT-PTA), Nkoikoi Mabina (Kanatla Ladies), Kholosa Biyana (UKZN), Lucinda Croy (Santos FC), Thato Lesoso (UJ) , Zanele Nhlapo (Mamelodi Sundowns) and Philisa Mjambane (Red Roses).
Other players will be making a return to the team after long absence.
“For Banyana Banyana, this is a not a busy year in terms of competition so it was important that we call up players we would love to see up close. Some are impressive when they are at their clubs but it is important that we take opportunities like this to bring them to the national team – as we won’t know how they will do until we see them in this environment” said Ellis.
“We would have loved to call up more players but we are restricted in terms of numbers and those that did not make it this time around will surely get a chance next time as we are planning to conduct as many training camps as possible. The training camp is basically to broaden our base and we must use it wisely so that when competition starts, we know exactly where we stand.”
Ellis adds that she had to mix the players around so there is balance in the squad.
“We could have easily called up a totally new group of players but what good would that have been? They have to learn from the experienced players that we have in the squad so they know the culture and philosophy of the team. I am glad to see that wherever we have been, monitoring these players, they have raised their hands to say we are ready. It is only fair that we give them that chance and see what they bring to the table. But it doesn’t mean the door is closed on anyone – this is a long-term process,” added Ellis.
“I do not work alone, because we have a vast country we need all the help we can get. We are fortunate that we have 28 CAF A license coaches assisting in the scouting of players around the country and they have been of great help.”
Banyana Banyana hasn’t played a match since they faced France in an international friendly clash in Saint-Dennis, Reunion Islands earlier this year (Sunday, 22 January).
Ellis says it is important to qualify for the Women’s AWCON as it will serve as a qualifier for the World Cup.
“This exercise will become more important when we get closer to the qualifiers because we need a strong team to play the AWCON qualifiers and finish in the top three at the 2018 AWCON so we can go to France, we can’t wait until the year of competition and start preparations as it will be too late. We narrowly missed out on the last World Cup tournament in Canada, so it will be crucial that we qualify for this one – the idea is to be at the 2018 AWCON, move to the 2019 World Cup and also be at the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo, but the plan starts now,” said Ellis.
The 2018 AWCON will be held from 17 November to 1 December.
Written by: SAFA Media