African champions Banyana face tough test against formidable Brazil
South Africa’s senior women’s football side is set for two challenging clashes against South American champions, Brazil. It will be their first matches since being crowned African champions.
Two continental champions, both bound for the 2023 World Cup in New Zealand and Australia in just under a year, are set for an exciting and fast-paced clash at the Orlando Stadium on Friday.
South Africa, playing in their first match since their historic Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) triumph, take on South American champions, Brazil.
On the announcement of the double-header fixture against the Brazilians, Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis was elated at the calibre of opponents organised by the South African Football Association (Safa) for her charges. This comes as her team shifts its attention to the World Cup, slated for kick-off in July next year.
“You know, immediately after the Wafcon last month, Safa said they would give us the best possible preparation for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand,” said Ellis when the fixtures were announced.
“What more could we ask for? A powerhouse, not just in women’s football but also in men’s football.
“Brazil are the champions of Copa America… a real powerhouse. What a way to start preparing for the World Cup. What a way to start off our campaign.”
One fixture is scheduled for Soweto. The second of the twin friendlies will mean Durbanites get the opportunity to see the clash of the continental champions. That match is slated for Monday, 5 September, at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. Both matches kick off at 6pm.
The Brazilians, who are placed 9th on current Fifa rankings, arrived in South Africa on Tuesday. After recently clinching a record-extending eighth continental crown, the South Americans have travelled with a strong contingent — barring their talismanic number 10, Marta.
The midfielder — considered one the best players to ever grace a football pitch — is still recovering from a knee ligament injury sustained earlier this year.
Nonetheless, Ellis expects her African champions to be thoroughly tested by the visitors.
“They are a top team… A lot of their players play for big clubs abroad and they have a top coach who has coached all over the world. So, I think it will be an exciting game.”
Indeed, the Brazilians come into the clash in blazing form. As they played their way to their most recent continental success, they did not concede a single goal in six matches, while banging in 20 themselves.
The side, coached by former US national women’s team mentor Pia Sundhage, will ask all the right questions of the South Africans, who are looking to up the ante ahead of their second World Cup appearance.
“It will be a big test for us, and that is what we want, especially after Wafcon; to test the players and see where we are at. We are expecting the crowd to come out. We have played for a long time without any fans and we hope that the fans will be out to support us in this game.”
Banyana Banyana will have to do without the services of the injured Thembi Kgatlana. Other than that, Ellis and her technical team have a strong pool of players to choose from.
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Banyana Banyana squad:
Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini (Sundowns), Kaylin Swart (JVW), Regirl Ngobeni (UWC)
Defenders: Karabo Dhlamini (Oakland University), Asanda Hadebe (Sunflower WFC), Janine van Wyk (JVW), Lebohang Ramalepe (Dinamo Minsk), Bambanani Mbane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongeka Gumede (UWC), Lonathemba Mhlongo (UWC)
Midfielders: Refiloe Jane (Sassoulo), Nomvula Kgaola (Unattached), Linda Motlhalo (Djurgadens), Thalea Smidt (Mamelodi Sundowns), Robyn Moodaly (JVW), Kholosa Biyana (Unattached), Amogelang Motau (UWC), Thubelihle Shamase (UJ)
Forwards: Jermaine Seoposenwe (FC Juarez), Melinda Kgadiete (Mamelodi Sundowns), Noxolo Cesane (UWC), Nthabiseng Majiya (Richmond), Hildah Magaia (Sejong Sportstoto).