The Banyana Banyana squad is ready, willing and able to face one of their greatest challenges, when they compete in the 12-nation Cyprus Women’s Cup from 28 February to 6 March.
Despite being drawn in a tough group that includes South Korea, New Zealand and Northern Ireland, Banyana Banyana coach Joseph Mkhonza believes that the Sasol-sponsored South African Senior Women’s National Team has done the hard work at the national team training camp currently underway in Stellenbosch.
“The three-week training camp in Stellenbosch has allowed the coaches to closely analyse the players’ strength and weakness and we have seen versatility of the players, with some able to play three or more positions on the field,” said Mkhonza.
An example of this is newcomer Refiloe Jane. Nicknamed ‘Fifi’, Jane, who plays her football for Sasol League Gauteng club Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies, is equally at home in defence at right back or as a central defender and also in midfield.
She joins the ranks of versatile players along with the more experienced midfield anchor Gabisile Hlumbane from Kovsies FC in the Sasol League Free State – a player with 25 Banyana Banyana appearances to her name. Last year, Hlumbane, known as ‘Chyna’ played in midfield and in the left back and right back defensive roles for the national team.
With 17 Banyana Banyana caps, Yola Jafta from the University of Johannesburg in the Sasol League Gauteng is another player who makes her presence felt as a midfield anchor or can be used as a central defender.
While the selection process of the squad to do duty in Cyprus is still underway, Mkhonza urged other players on the fringe of the Banyana Banyana selection to keep pushing for recognition.
“The door is still open for players as far as the London Olympic Games is concerned. We want to take South Africa’s best players to the event, and if there are players out there who can add value, we will continue to search until we find them. The squad to compete at the London Olympics is by no means finalised,” said Mkhonza
Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini said: “By training together for over three weeks, the coaches have been able to work on the endurance and strength levels of the players and I believe that the Banyana Banyana team that will compete in Cyprus will be one of the fittest and physically strongest Senior Women’s National Teams to wear the South African jersey.”
“The more experienced players have helped new players like defenders Cindy Meyer and Jane to adjust to the Banyana Banyana set up and there is great effort being put in by the players as nobody wants to miss out on the Cyprus Women’s Cup or the London Olympics in July.”
Zambia WNT "She-Polopolo" Coach Adds Three More Players
Zambia's Simbeye said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that 20 players, except for goalkeeper Mirriam Katamanda, midfielder Susan Banda and new call-up Carol Kanyemba had reported for camp at the FAZ Technical Centre.
Simbeye said she would maintain the same team that crashed the Malawi 7-0 during the first leg in Lusaka last weekend; adding however that the technical bench had introduced a goalkeeper Jane Mutambo and player Elizabeth Mutale to strengthen her side.
She said the technical bench was doing everything possible to equip the players and also aiming at winning the second leg, saying the flames were eager to avenge the loss to the She-polopolo.
The coach said Zambia would not rely on past glory as they plan for the return leg, but would focus on recording a new victory for Zambia to advance to the next stage.
Simbeye said her team was looking forward to recording a clean sheet of winning both home and away to ease the process of qualifying to the next round where Zambia is scheduled to meet South Africa's Banyana Banyana.
"We have to focus on the new game and aim to win the second match. We are not going to rely on the past glory, but we have to work hard and keep a clean sheet of winning home and away games," she said.
Simbeye said during the first match, the technical bench identified some weaknesses in the players that the coaches were trying to rectify. Women team coach, Enala Simbeye has included three more players in the squad that demolished Malawi 7-0 last weekend in a 2012 CAF Africa Cup qualifier to beef up the team.
Meanwhile, all but three players yesterday called to camp had reported ahead of commencement of preparations for next Saturday's CAF 2012 Women Africa Cup preliminary round second leg tie against the Flames of Malawi set for Blantyre.
FIFA Women U-17 World Cup Qualifiers
Nigeria's U-17 Women National Team, nicknamed Flamingoes,last Saturday in Nairobi started their campaign for a place at this year's FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup finals on a bright note, when they defeated their Kenyan counterparts 2-0 in a first round, first leg match.
Patience Okaene scored in the 27th and 63rd minutes of the encounter at the Nyayo National Stadium to set Nigeria on course for a place in the second and final round of qualifiers come the month of March.
"The girls played well and dominated the game, and they showed the right spirit throughout," said Aisha Falode, Coordinator of Nigeria's Women National Teams, who was with the team in Nairobi.
Nigeria will host the return leg of the fixture on Saturday, February 4. Three countries will fly Africa's flag at this year's FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup finals to be staged in Azerbaijan between September and October.
The Flamingoes participated in the two earlier editions of the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, in New Zealand (2008) and Trinidad and Tobago (2010), reaching the quarter finals in the last edition before losing to eventual winners South Korea in extra time.
The Namibian under-17 women tam played to goalless draw against South Africa on Saturday afternoon in their FIFA Women’s U17 World Cup qualifying match at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek.
Both sides had a great share of possession and showed some great innovations going forward in an entertaining match.
The Namibians, coached by Bertus Bock and Jeremy Zimmer, had captain Lovisa Mulunga in great form, while keeper Melanie Hikuam, had a great afternoon as well.
Twiga Stars skipper Sophia Mwasikili is talking tough ahead of their tie with Namibia in their African Women Championship (AWC) qualifying stage second leg tie to be held on January 29.
Both teams will lock horns with at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam in the biennial competition in women’s football for national teams which belong to the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Speaking to SuperSport from the the Ruvu National Service training camp the lanky Captian said "“We have no reason to lose the Sunday’s encounter with Namibia. We are preparing well in our camp and we thank everyone for the support we are getting. All we need now is for soccer fans to come in large numbers at the National Stadium on Sunday to cheer their team,”
Taking into consideration that the Tanzania Federation Football (TFF), the soccer’s governing body has granted the Independent Television (ITV) exclusive rights to televise the game live one can expect quite a thriller come Sunday.
The finals of the African Women Championship will be staged in November in Equatorial Guinea.
The Eagels of Mali have vowed to put the 3-0 loss dished out to them by Ghana behind them as they prepare to redeem themselves in the second leg of the 1st round qualifiers of the AWC to be played in Ghana. Star player Awa Coulibaly promised to do her nation proud regardless of the 3-0 deficit.
"We will go to Ghana 3-0 down but we will redeem ourselves and make our nation proud" she said.
Reinforcements have been called in to beef up the squad in preparation for the battle in Accra.