Pretoria - Banyana Banyana will jet off to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, today to compete against their South American opposition, with a clear message from President Jacob Zuma to make the country proud.
During his State of the Nation Address on Thursday evening, Zuma said: “We must perform better in sports this year.”
Banyana won 13 of their 17 fixtures last year and qualified to join Cameroon as representatives of the African continent at the 2012 London Olympics in July – a feat that scored them praise from the President.
“We also congratulate the national women’s soccer team, Banyana Banyana, for qualifying for the London Olympics for the first time. With our support, they will do well,” he said on Thursday.
The Joseph Mkhonza team will compete at the Cyprus
Women’s Cup from 28 February to 6 March, having been drawn in a group along with South Korea, New Zealand and Northern Ireland.
Experienced midfielders in Russian-based Nompumelelo Nyandeni and USA-based Kylie Ann Louw will link up with their Banyana team-mates in Cyprus.
Mkhonza has opted to include former Durban Ladies gloves specialist Roxanne Barker, who is currently a student at Peperdine University in the USA. The third goalkeeper in the current team is North West-based Mputle Ntshatsana.
During the South American tour in particular, the coach is expected to take a closer look at the option of whether to continue with talented midfield anchor Gabisile Hlumbane in the left-back defender role.
The Kovsies FC player is comfortable kicking with either foot and has done duty for Banyana in both full back defensive positions as well as in midfield.
“One of the positive points of Banyana Banyana is that we have a few players who can play in various positions on the park,” said Mkhonza.
Besides Hlumbane, uncapped Refiloe Jane is equally at home at right back, central defence or in midfield, while Nothando Vilakazi has been used as a left back defender or as a left-sided striker.
Janine van Wyk’s return to the national senior women’s team after two months on the sidelines, due to personal reasons, is good news for the Banyana Banyana defence.
Her centre back combination with Port Elizabeth-based Amanda Sister has been one of the success stories of Banyana in recent times. - BuaNews