Interim Banyana Banyana coach 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. Kick-off is at 19:00 South African 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 said 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 did not mean the other players do not 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.