BANYANA BANYANA. Photo: SYDNEY MAHLANGU/BACKPAGEPIX

Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis says the upcoming Cyprus Cup will sharpen her troops for the World Cup in June.

From February 27 to March 6, South Africa’s women’s football team will be competing against fellow France qualifiers Nigeria, Italy, Thailand and South Korea at the 12-nation tournament.

And after naming her 23-player squad for the competition in the Mediterranean, she is hoping her team can build on their impressive recent performances.

Ellis says: “We have come a long way and this competition has helped every step of the way, as we have grown over the years of participation.”

Three players who featured in Cape Town friendlies against the Netherlands and Sweden last month have not made the cut, as goalkeeper Jessica Williams, forward Kelso Peskin and midfielder Hildah Magaia all missed out.

The African Women’s Coach of the Year adds: “The battle for places in the final squad for the World Cup is becoming tighter and tighter as we get closer to the tournament. 

“Starting with the Cyprus Cup, we will be travelling with only 23 players, which is the number that we will take to France as per 
regulations.

“But make no mistake, this is by no means the World Cup squad, even though it is very close to what we will select. The tournament only kicks off in June and anything can happen."

Banyana go into training camp on Feb 20.

The SA Women’s squad

Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart, Victoria Muroa.

Defenders: Lebogang Ramamalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Janine Van Wyk, Noko Matlou, Bambanani Mbane, Tiisetso Makhubela, Koketso Tlailane, Karabo Dhlamini.

Midfielders: Mamello Makhabane, Leandra Smeda, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Busisiwe Ndimeni, Linda Motlhalo, Refiloe Jane, Molatelo Sebata, Kholosa Biyana.

Strikers: Jermaine Seoposenwe, Thembi Kgatlana, Amanda Mthandi, Rhoda Mulaudzi.

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