Banyana. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

With their eyes firmly on the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup in mid-year, there was an extra increase in the energy of Banyana Banyana players in their first training session at Ikamva, the home of Ajax Cape Town, on Thursday.

Also at training was Noko Matlou and head coach Desiree Ellis who had just landed from Dakar, Senegal, where they attended the 2018 CAF Awards.

Missing from the session, however, was forward Thembi Kgatlana, who only arrived after the squad’s workout.

Kgatlana has crowned the 2018 CAF Woman Player of the Year, and also won the Goal of the Year award, while Ellis was named the CAF Women’s National Team Coach of the Year.

There were 21 players at the training session – Amanda Mthandi (who was busy with exams) will join her compatriots on Friday with the Australia-based duo of Rhoda Mulaudzi and Refiloe Jane only expected to arrive next Wednesday due to club commitments.

Goalkeeper Roxanne Barker has not yet reported for training and the technical team is contemplating whether to replace her or continue with 25 players from the 26 called up for the training camp.

Banyana Banyana will face the Netherlands on Saturday, January 19, at 3 pm in an international friendly match, which will be followed by a fixture against Sweden three days later (Tuesday, January 22) at 7 pm with both encounters at the Cape Town Stadium.

A practice match behind closed doors against Sweden will precede the two duels on Thursday, January 17.

All this is part of the build-up and hype ahead of the Women’s World Cup which runs from June 7 to July 7 in France.

Banyana Banyana has been drawn in Group A together with Spain, China PR and Germany.  

African News Agency