Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has named the 23-member squad for the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations tournament (AWCON) to be staged in Morocco next month.
Banyana Banyana FINAL 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations Squad.
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Banyana gunning for win at Africa Women’s Cup Of Nations tournament:
Experienced keepers, Andile Dlamini and Kaylin Swarts have been named in the 23-member squad. The squad is a blend of youth and experience. Ellis says the overseas-based players have improved the level of her team.
The team has been in camp since June 10th as it prepares for the tournament where it has been drawn in Group C alongside long-time nemesis, Nigeria, Burundi and Botswana, who knocked them out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers three years ago.
The African Women’s Cup of Nations makes a return this year after the 2020 tournament wasn’t staged because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The biennial continental women’s football tournament, which serves as qualifiers for the four-yearly FIFA World Cup, has now been expanded from an eight-nation tournament with 12 teams now contesting this event.
Spot in FIFA Women’s World Cup
While the top three teams qualified for the Women’s World Cup in the past, this time around the four-semi-finalists will earn a spot at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Seasoned and successful campaigners such as Italy-based Refiloe Jane, Spain’s Atletico Madrid team player, Thembi Kgatlana, Janine Van Wyk, Noko Matlou, Jermaine Seoposengwe and Sweden-based Linda Motlhalo are some of the familiar faces who’ve been included in the team.
Banyana coach says the experience of the overseas-based players rubs off on other players.
“The experienced players set the standard and others rise to the occasion. Players that come from abroad make a difference in the team, Ellis adds.
There are high expectations for Banyana Banyana to perform well and even go all the way and win the tournament after losing on penalties to Nigeria in the last tournament staged in Ghana four years ago.
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Team is competent
Banyana’s impressive 4-2 victory over Nigeria’s Super Falcons at the Aisha Buhari Invitational Tournament last September showed the team has what it takes to win the continental tournament, after playing second fiddle many times to their West African counterparts.
However, Ellis says they will take it one match at a time with their opening game on July 2nd against Nigeria the most important one.
She explains, “I think if you look too far ahead, you lose focus of the task at hand, the first game the second game… Get out of the group stages, win the quarter-finals then we qualify for the World Cup. But the task at hand is the first game against Nigeria.”
Banyana Banyana will start their campaign with the match against the 11-time champions, Nigeria, on July 4th before playing Burundi on the 7th.
They will play their last Group C match against Botswana on the 10th. The four teams to reach the semi-finals will represent the continent at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia. The AWCON tournament which officially kicks off on the 2nd of July will end on July 27th.