By Sizakele Nkosi
Interim Head Coach of South Africa’s Banyana Banyana, Desiree Ellis has been given the same luxury of playing top European opposition, as her predecessor Vera Pauw.
This time, Banyana Banyana have a friendly against France which will be played on Sunday, January 22 in Saint-Denis, Reunion Islands at 7pm SA time.
Leading to the Rio 2016 Olympics, South African Women’s National Team in their build up to the tournament, played a few international friendly matches against the likes of New Zealand, Netherlands and the United States of America.
And Banyana Banyana and Mamelodi Sundowns forward Andisiwe Mgcoyi has admitted that she can already see the benefits of playing top opposition.
“This game is good for us because France is up there with the best, and playing against them will really help our game improve even more. Some of the players in the current Banyana Banyana squad faced the likes of New Zealand, USA and the Netherlands, and you could see how that helped lift their performance at the Olympic Games in Brazil where they also played other big guns like Brazil, Sweden and China. So this game is really crucial for us to try and improve as much as we can. We know it will not be easy but we are up for the task,” said Mgcoyi.
The Sasol sponsored team came in fourth place at the 10th African Women’s Cup of Nation in Cameroon and the lanky forward further stated that the lack of finishing stopped the team from taking top honours.
After the AWCON tournament, the Banyana forward went home and did some introspection.
“After the AWCON, where we finished fourth, and I think mainly because we didn’t score goals, I went back home and had a good look at my performance. If you think about it, at the Sasol League games I score many goals and I asked myself what could be the reason. The fact is that the standard of the league and international matches are very different, but we cannot use that as an excuse, we have to work harder until we get it right.
“We play well in the national team but don’t convert our chances, which is something we have been focusing on. As a striker I have to score goals because that is the job I have been called up for – and we must remember that scoring goals starts at training and it will be easier in the games, so it is all work in progress. But we are confident we will get a good result against France,” concluded Mgcoyi.
Due to the injury woes that hit the team, Coach Ellis called upon experienced midfielder Amanda Dlamini to replace the Nompumelelo Nyandeni.
With two experienced midfielders out due to injury – Mamello Makhabane and Nyandeni – Dlamini was the obvious replacement Desiree and her technical team needed.
During the 2016 AWCON tournament in Cameroon, Roxanne Barker injured her toe and is still not match fit. Her club SC Heerenven, Netherlands advised the South African technical team not to take the player to France. Ellis has called up Monnye Theledi from Kanatla Ladies, Limpopo to replace Barker.
“As for Theledi, she was identified at the 2016 Sasol League National Championship in Mossel Bay. We could have called up other goalkeepers who have been in the system before but we thought we have two quality goalkeepers and the third is unlikely to play, so it was to bring her (Theledi) in so she can get some experience in the Banyana Banyana set up,” Coach Ellis explained.
Banyana had their final training session on Wednesday before jetting off to Reunion on Thursday.
This will be the second meeting between the two nations- France won the first clash 3-2 back in 2009.
Banyana Banyana Squad to face France:
Andile Dlamini; Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies Johannesburg
Yolula Tsawe; JVW FC Johannesburg
Monnye Theledi; Kanatla Ladies Limpopo
Nothando Vilakazi; Palace Super Falcons Johannesburg
Janine Van Wyk; JVW FC Johannesburg
Noko Matlou MaIndis; FC Polokwane
Bambanani Mbane; Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies Bloemfontein
Lebogang Mabatle; TUKS Pretoria
Lebohang Ramalepe; Ma-Indies Polokwane
Zenhle Chabaku; Bloemfontein Celtic Bloemfontein
Amanda Dlamini; JVW FC Johannesburg
Leandra Smeda; UWC Ladies Cape Town
Thembi Kgatlana; UWC Ladies Cape Town
Refiloe Jane; Mamelodi Sundowns Johannesburg
Silindile Ngubane; Durban Ladies Pietermaritzburg
Gabriela Salgado; JVW FC Johannesburg
Linda Motlhalo; JVW FC Johannesburg
Shiwe Nogwanya; Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies Bloemfontein
Andisiwe Mgcoyi; Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies Johannesburg
Jermaine Seoposenwe; Samford University USA
Rhoda Mulaudzi; Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies Johannesburg
Bontle Mashilo; TUT-Pretoria Pretoria