South Africa: Banyana’s Ellis Puts Charges Through Their Paces in Camp

We are impressed with what we saw – Desiree EllisInterim Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis is busy with a five-day selection training camp with a squad of 34 players.

The Sasol-sponsored squad is preparing for the COSAFA Cup tournament that will take place in September this year.

The squad held their first training on Monday at Ennerdale Stadium, south of Johannesburg.

Ellis has picked only one new face, Molatelo Sara Kobo from the University of Limpopo in Polokwane, with several regulars included.

Twelve of the players are part of the 20-member University Sport South Africa (USSA) squad that will travel to the 29th Summer Universiade, also known as the World Student Games, which will be held in Taipei from 19-30 August 2017.

Ellis shared her thoughts with the SAFA communications team and shed some light on developments

What is this camp all about?

‘We’re preparing the team for the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship, which will take place from 13-24 September in Zimbabwe. We also have the majority of the students that will play at the 2017 World Student Games in Taipei from 11 June to 31 August, so we just want to make sure the players are fit and understand what is expected of them. But prior to them reporting for camp, we gave them a training programme, and they seem to have followed it as they looked good on the first day – most have shed some weight. It was a good session, considering that some played Wednesday and Saturday or Wednesday and Sunday. It was a good measure to see where they are, and a few players raised their hands.’

From the squad of 34 in camp, only one new face?

‘The main idea is to have a core group. Stuart Baxter is trying something similar with Bafana Bafana, where he is calling on players that have been to the U17 and U20 World Cup tournaments, and other players outside the core group, like Mario Booysen who played in the COSAFA Cup and the CHAN matches – we are trying to do something similar and trying to get everybody on the same level of fitness, so that if one player withdraws you can automatically call up another because the player is part of the group and not too far behind in terms of fitness and knowledge of what is needed. The new face we have called up is Sara Molatelo Kobo from the University of Limpopo. She’s only 20 years old, but has showed a lot of promise. Her team was not one of the better teams when I saw her, but she scored a lot of goals out of nothing. There are still many more out there that we didn’t call, but they are in the pipeline for future call-ups.’

Speaking of withdrawals, two players pulled out of the camp before the start.

‘Midfielder Amanda Dlamini was called up, but withdrew at the last minute as she had aggravated an injury and requested she be released. I was fortunate enough to be at the TUT vs Soweto Fabulous match on Sunday and one of the players we have been tracking is Nomvula Kgoale, who was part of the group from the 2010 U17 Women’s World Cup squad that went to Trinidad and Tobago. She is currently playing in Louisiana in the USA, but is in the country at the moment, so we thought we should bring her in and have a look at her. The other player that did not make it is Busisiwe Ndimeni of Super Falcons, she has had two major injuries in the last two and a half years – and was in and out of the squad. Just when she was getting back after playing fantastically recently, she has a family commitment, and unfortunately she had to decide. She was sad about it, but I support her fully with the decision she has taken, family is important and we have to take care of them. The unfortunate part in this situation is when players who have been called up raise their hands – this also puts the coaches in a difficult position to decide what to do then, but then again that’s the position coaches want to be in to make those difficult decisions.’

Almost the entire USSA squad is here?

‘We were fortunate to go to the selection camp in May and we found some players there who raised their hands, hence you see them here. It is also fortunate that between Banyana Banyana and the USSA national team there is some sort of continuity – the coaches share a lot of information on players and that helps going forward.’

As you are preparing for COSAFA Cup, is this the final list to choose from?

‘Not at all, the door is not closed and can never be closed on any player. Remember there are players that raise their hands all the time, we know there are many players out there that we did not select – be it from the U20s where there are the likes of Linda Motlhalo and Mapaseka Mpuru who are busy with their matric year, and they will also play for Basetsana (SA U20 women’s national team) to try and help them qualify for the 2018 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup that will be held in France. For now it’s important that they concentrate on their studies. If you look at the squad we have selected, most are in their 20s and they are almost in their prime, then we have the more experienced ones that are 28 or so. It’s always important to refresh the squad, but you can’t throw out the experienced ones, then you sit with a team that has no experience just a year away from the crucial qualifiers. Of course there will come a time when as coaches you have to make the hard decisions, when you can’t hold back the young ones anymore and that makes the job even more difficult.’

The Banyana Banyana training camp squad:

Andile Dlamini, Yolula Tsawe, Roxanne Barker, Tshidi Murola, Lebohang Ramalepe, Koketso Tlailane, Nothando Vilakazi, Thato Letsoso, Regina Mogoglola, Zanele Nhlapo, Noko Matlou, Bambanani Mbane, Astria Boks, Zenhle Chabaku, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Leandra Smeda, Nkoikoi Mabina, Refiloe Jane, Rachel Sebati, Noxolo Magudu, Kholosa Biyana, Thembi Kgatlana, Chuene Morifi, Amogelang Motau, Gabriela Salgado, Nomvula Kgoale, Jabulile Mazibuko, Bontle Mashilo, Rhoda Muladuzi, Lucinda Croy, Nwabisa Kolisi, Chantelle Esau, Letago Madiba, Molatelo Sara Kobo

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