Banyana Banyana look to iron out errors ahead of the Olympics
The South African Senior Women's National Team (Banyana Banyana) is set to focus on ironing out technical and tactical errors as they prepare for the African Women's Championship qualifiers scheduled to take place later this month.
Teenage central defender Meagan Newman has been called up to train with the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana squad at the national training camp which commenced in Potchefstroom on Thursday, 10 May 2012.
“Right now, I am more nervous than excited knowing that I have been given this wonderful opportunity to train with such a bunch of experienced Banyana Banyana players at the national training camp in Potchefstroom,” said the 17-year-old Newman, who has been capped 7 times for the national Under 20 side.
“But I am sure I will settle down when I put my boots on and am out on the training pitch.”
Newman will not be the only 17 year-old at the national camp.
Midfielder Robyn Moodaly, who is also at the High Performance Centre and has scored once during her 10 appearances for the national team, returns to the Banyana Banyana squad for the first time in 2012. She represented the South African Under 20 side earlier this year.
Newman’s call-up falls in line with the vision of Banyana Banyana head coach Joseph Mkhonza.
“The national team to represent South Africa at the Olympics has not been selected yet, as we are keeping the door open right until the last moment, in order to ensure that we don’t overlook any talent that can add value to our campaign in London,”
“I am delighted to have Moodaly back as she played a key role during the national team’s Olympic qualifying campaign last year. Over the past few weeks we have called up several young players as we look to build a solid reservoir of talent for the future. The national training camp platform is there for the players to use as best they can”said Mkhonza.
Meanwhile, USA-based goalkeeper Roxanne Barker has arrived in the country and will join her Banyana Banyana team-mates in camp in Potchefstroom. The Pepperdine University-based third year Biology student will be hard at work to convince the coaches that she should occupy one of the three goalkeeper positions among the 18 players set to represent South Africa at the Olympics.
The other goalkeepers in the national squad are experienced first choice Thoko Mndaweni and Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies (Sasol League Gauteng) goal-minder Andile Dlamini, who also played for the national Under 20 side this year.
Due to club commitments, experienced midfielder Nompumelelo Nyandeni will not be joining her compatriots in camp, but she will be available for the Banyana Banyana clash against Zambia in the African Women Championship first leg qualifier in Lusaka on 26 May.
Mkhonza’s other overseas-based midfielder Kylie Ann Louw will attend her graduation ceremony at the Stephen Austin University in Texas, USA, before joining her team-mates on Friday 18, May 2012.
Joseph Mkhonza, head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana said he is concentrating all his efforts on finding the perfect combinations as the players resume with preparations at the High Performance Sports Institute at the Potchefstroom University.
Mkhonza will be without the services of Mamello Makhabane who has been pulled out of camp due to a recurring injury she sustained during the Olympic qualifiers. Makhabane will follow a rehabilitation programme but her absence will be felt as she was a key player who assisted the national team achieve the dream of qualifying for the London Olympics.
“It's a knock that Mamello has had to withdraw from the squad as she played an essential part in helping the team qualify for the Olympics. She was one of the rocks of this team, but I am almost certain that with the depth we have in the squad, we will fill her position for the time being, and I want to say that the door is still open should she recover on time. For now all we can do is wish her a speedy recovery,” said Mkhonza.
USA-based goalkeeper Roxanne Barker has already joined her compatriots at the training camp in Potchefstroom.
The Banyana Banyana squad is still waiting upon Texas-based Kylie-Ann Louw who is expected back in SA on Friday, 18 May, due to a graduation ceremony she has to attend at her University.
Mkhonza is aware they have little time to attend to areas that need special attention ahead of the Olympics but believes they will be ready come competition time.
"We have come a long way with our preparations for London. We now need to focus our attention on tactical and ball skills in front of goals. We know that time is not on our side, so we have to be thorough with our final preparations between now and the end of July. But we are optimistic we will get everything right before we leave for the Olympics because the technical team and the players are working hard to realise this London dream," said Mkhonza.