Desiree Ellis announces Banyana Banyana squad for Cosafa Women's Championship

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Desiree Ellis - Coach of South Africa
Banyana Banyana are gearing up for next month's Cosafa Women's Championship in Port Elizabeth, and Ellis announced her squad for the tournament

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has named her squad of 20 players to take part in the the 2018 Cosafa Women’s Championship that will take place in Port Elizabeth from between September 12-22, 2018.

Ellis will be hoping for Banyana to use the home ground advantage to defend their title which they won last year when they beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in the final.

The Banyana squad is made up of experienced players, some of which ply their trade overseas.

The likes of Janine van Wyk, Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana, who play their football in the USA for Houston Dash have all been made the team.

“This is the best news we have received ahead of this tournament. We are delighted to have the trio back with us after such a long absence from the squad. We hope their experience will be valuable to the squad in our quest to build a solid foundation ahead of the Afcon tournament later this year,” Ellis told the media.

Missing from the squad is Leandra Smeda as she is on club duty playing in the Uefa Champions Leauge Women’s Last 32 after she recently signed for a new club in Lithuania. Taking her place is Thato Letsoso of the University of Johannesburg.

The coach said: "I guess you can’t have it all. While we are getting three players from the USA, we are also losing an influential player due to club commitments – but on the other hand, this is a chance for other players to raise their hands and close the gap."

“We can only wish her luck in her new endeavors. Hopefully she will be back with us for the big one, the Afcon,” added Ellis.

Banyana will be boosted by the availability of vice captain Refiloe Jane, who recently signed for Australian side Canberra United.

Ellis admiited that pressure will be on them both as the defending champions and the hosts.

“We are playing at home and the pressure is on us, but perhaps more importantly, this is a good opportunity for us to gel our squad in good physical condition to prepare for Afcon. The longer we stay in the Cosafa Cup the more we will get our players to gel ahead of the Ghana mission. In short, we will use Cosafa to fine tune our squad for Afcon,” reiterated Ellis.

There are 12 teams in the 2018 Cosafa Cup – South Africa (hosts), Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland as well as two invited guests – Cameroon (West Africa) and Uganda (East Africa).

Banyana Banyana squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Kaylin Swart (Menlo College USA), Roxanne Barker (USC Ladies), Andile Dlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns).

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Defenders: Lebohang Ramalepe (Ma-Indies), Nothando Vilakazi (Falcons FC), Janine van Wyk (Houston Dash, USA), Bambanani Mbane (Bloemfontein Celtic), Regina Mogolola (Tuks).

Midfielders: Kgaelebane Mohlakoana (Celtic), Kholosa Biyana (UKZN), Refiloe Jane (Canberra United), Thato Letsoso (UJ), Nompumelelo Nyandeni (JVW), Hildah Magaia (TUT-PTA), Linda Motlhalo, Thembi Kgatlana (both Houston Dash).

Strikers: Jermaine Seoposenwe (JVW), Melinda Kgadiete (Bloemfontein Celtic), Chantelle Esau (Mamelodi Sundowns), Noko Matlou (Ma-Indies).