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Banyana toughen up
- Updated: January 24, 2012
Our Banyana Banyana women’s soccer squad is ready, willing and able to face one of their greatest challenges to date, 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 side has done the hard work at the national team training camp currently underway in Stellenbosch.
ÔÇ£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,ÔÇØ 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 ÔÇô 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.
ÔÇ£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,ÔÇØ said Mkhonza.
Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini said: ÔÇ£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 women’s to wear the South African jersey.
ÔÇ£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.ÔÇØ