By Agnes Amondi,
South Africa women’s football team will take on regional neighbours Lesotho in an international friendly match on Sunday, March 8 at the Tsakane Stadium, east of Johannesburg.
This will be Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana’s first match of the year having last played in November 2019 when they lost to Japan at the Kitakyushu Stadium in Fukuoka, Japan.
Head coach Desiree Ellis has announced a squad of 26 players to face Lesotho. She has made several changes to the team that travelled to Asia.
10 uncapped players have been called up – seven of them new faces.Mapaseka Mpuru, Jessica Williams and Neliswa Luthuli have tasted the national team set-up before, but are yet to don the national team jersey, while Xiluva Tshabalala, Karabo Makhurubetshi, Nonhlanhla Mthandi, Nomsa Mathonsi, Pride Nthite, Oratile Mokwena and Lorraine Makhoali are newcomers.
Making a return after a long absence are Lebogang Mabatle and Koketso Tlailane.Also called up for the Lesotho clash are Hilda Magaia, Karabo Dhlamini, Amanda Mthandi, Sibulele Holweni and Bongeka Gamede who missed the Japan trip due to exams.
Most of the players have been selected from the new SAFA National Women’s League while there are still a few that still campaign in the Sasol League – like Mathonsi (University of Free State), Neliswa Luthuli, Ongeziwe Ndlangisa (both Sunflower), Williams (Spurs WFC), Mpuru (University of Pretoria) as well as the newly-promoted players of JVW and MaIndies, who will only join the SAFA National Women’s League in the new season.
Four players are in the current South African U-20 Women’s National Team (Basetsana) – Mokwena, Holweni, Dhlamini and Noxolo Cesane.
No overseas players feature, while Ellis has also left out some of the local-based regulars like Leandra Smeda, Nothando Vilakazi, captain Janine van Wyk, Noko Matlou and Kaylin Swart.
“No disrespect whatsoever to Lesotho for leaving out these players, the main aim is to look into the future. I know exactly what these regulars can offer the team, but we also have to work on a succession plan.
We have to increase the pool of players we have. We are a team in transition and to prepare for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup we have to start now,” said Ellis.
“We would like to see the other players closer, and check if they have anything to offer the national team. The squad we have selected is a mixture of young players and experienced ones, the likes of Mamello, Lebo Ramalepe, Andile Dlamini. I am confident we will do well against Lesotho.”
With the absence of Van Wyk and Refiloe Jane, Lebogang Ramalepe – who is one of the vice-captains of the team – will wear the armband.
Banyana Banyana hit camp on Monday 2 in Johannesburg.
Andile Dlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns FC, Pretoria), Jessica Williams (Spurs WFC, Cape Town), Mapaseka Mpuru (University of Pretoria, Pretoria)
Lebogang Ramalepe (c) (Ma- Indies FC, Polokwane), Tiisetso Makhubela (TUT-Pretoria, Pretoria), Bongeka Gamede (University of Western Cape, Cape Town), Sibulele Holweni (University of Western Cape, Cape Town), Xiluva Tshabalala (MA-INDIES FC, Polokwane), Lebogang Mabatle (Mamelodi Sundowns FC, Johannesburg), Koketso Tlailane (TUT-Pretoria, Pretoria), Ongeziwe Ndlangisa (Sunflower FC Durban), Karabo Makhurubetshi (Mamelodi Sundowns FC, Johannesburg)
Mamello Makhabane (JVW FC, Johannesburg) Oratile Mokwena (Mamelodi Sundowns, Johannesburg), Karabo Dhlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns FC, Johannesburg), Robyn Moodaly (JVW FC, Johannesburg), Nomvula Kgoale (TUT-Pretoria, Pretoria), Nonhlanhla Mthandi (Mamelodi Sundowns FC, Johannesburg), Neliswa Luthuli (Sunflower FC, Durban), Noxolo Cesane (University of Western Cape, Cape Town), Nomsa Mathonsi (University of Free State, Bloemfontein)
Rhoda Mulaudzi (Mamelodi Sundowns FC, Pretoria), Hilda Magaia (TUT-Pretoria, Pretoria), Pride Nthite (University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg), Amanda Mthandi (University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg), Lorraine Makhoali (Golden Ladies FC)