Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Banyana Ready for 12-Nation Cyprus Cup

South Africa's women's football team, Banyana Banyana, will face one of its greatest challenges when it competes 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 the Sasol-sponsored team is doing the hard work necessary for success at a national team training camp currently under way in Stellenbosch.

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 (Refiloe) 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," she added.

"The three-week training camp in Stellenbosch has allowed the coaches to closely analyse the players' strength and weakness," commented Mkhonza, "and we have seen versatility of the players, with some able to play three or more positions on the field."


Mkhonza named newcomer Refiloe Jane as an example of the versatility of players in the squad. 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, or in in the midfield.

She joins the Banyana ranks along with Kovsies FC midfield anchor Gabisile Hlumbane, a player with with 25 international caps to her name. Last year, Hlumbane, known as "Chyna", played in midfield and also filled 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, either as a midfield anchor or as a central defender.


While the selection process of the squad to do duty in Cyprus is still under way, Mkhonza has urged 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," he said.

"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."

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