13 September 2017 – Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana open their 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship with a clash against Lesotho on Thursday, 14 September at Luveve Stadium in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Kickoff is at 14h00.

The South Africans come into the tournament with a wealth of experience. Five players have made 60 and more appearances each.

Defender Noko Matlou is the highest capped on 133 games, with midfielder Nompumelelo Nyandeni hot on her heels just three behind.

Nothando Vilakazi is likely to reach her century of matches in national team colours, as she is just two shy of the magic figure.

Captain of the squad, Refiloe Jane and Leandra Smeda are on 74 and 69 respectively.

Also, Chantelle Esau and Matlou have lifted the COSAFA CUP trophy, while Vilakazi has claimed both gold and silver, with Andile Dlamini also finishing in second place once.

“We have a lot of experience in the current squad, and also a lot of new players – the key is getting the balance right. Some of them have been to the Olympics, to the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, to the COSAFA Cup – so I believe we are well suited for this tournament. We can’t wait for the start,” said Banyana Banyana interim head coach Desiree Ellis.

“We have had good sessions here in Bulawayo and the players know what is expected of them against Lesotho. As I have been saying, a positive start is key as it makes life easier as the tournament progresses. What is important right now is to take each match as it comes. We watched Namibia hand a heavy defeat to Botswana (4-0), we picked up some notes and we will work on that after our first match. Right now the focus is on Lesotho.”

FACT FILE OF THE TOURNAMENT:

  • There are 12 countries in the tournament
  • South Africa is the highest ranked nation, followed by the hosts
  • Only five countries in the tournament are ranked
  • Seven other teams are not ranked as they have not played a match in the last 18 months
  • South Africa (2002, 2006, 2008) and Zimbabwe (2011) are the only nations to have won this tournament
  • Mauritius and Madagascar both making their first appearance
  • Kenya (East Africa) is playing in the tournament as guests

Banyana Banyana caps:

Noko Matlou                                 133

Nompumelelo Nyandeni               130

Nothando Vilakazi                         98

Refiloe Jane                                  74

Leandra Smeda                             69

Under 50 caps:

Roxanne Barker                             32

Lebogang Ramalepe                      30

Andile Dlamini                                 28

Thembi Kgatlana                             22

Chantelle Esau                                22

Bambanani Mbane                          11

Rhoda Mulaudzi                               10

Yolula Tsawe                                     5

Rachel Sebati                                    1

Nwabisa Kolisi                                   1

Uncapped players: (5)

Zanele Nhlapo

Kholosa Biyana

Regina Mogolola

Koketso Talliate

Nkoikoi Manina

RANKINGS:

South Africa        5th (52nd World)

Zimbabwe            12th (83rd)

Zambia                 17th (102)

Namibia                18th (103)

Kenya                    21st (114)

Nations not ranked (because they haven’t been active in the last 18th months)

Lesotho

Malawi

Madagascar

Mauritius

Mozambique

Namibia

Swaziland

BRIEF FACTS ON THE 2017 PARTICIPANTS

BOTSWANA:

  • 2002 (inaugural), 2008, 2011 – yet to go past knockout stages
  • Yet to qualify for a major championship – FIFA Women’s World Cup finals or African Women’s Championship

KENYA:

  • East African nation coming in as guests

LESOTHO:

* regular in the tournament since 2002

* Yet to get out of group stages

MADAGASCAR:

  • Madagascar – making their debut in the tournament

MALAWI:

  • Played in 2002, 2006, 2011
  • Reached knockout stages in 2011 (finished 4th)

MAURITIUS:

  • Debutants

MOZAMBIQUE:

  • Played in 2002, 2011 (reached the semifinals in 2002)

NAMIBIA:

  • Played in 2006 (lost in the final) and 2008 (lost in the final)

SOUTH AFRICA:

  • Won tournament three times – 2002, 2006, 2008
  • Finished second in 2011 (leaving them with a record of 18 wins from 19 games in the COSAFA Women’s Championships)

SWAZILAND:

  • Played in 2002

ZAMBIA

  • Played in 2002, 2006, 2008, 2011
  • Bronze medalists in 2002, 2006

ZIMBABWE:

  • Played in 2002 (lost in the final), 2006 (lost in semi-final), 2008, 2011
  • Won the tournament in 2011 (which they hosted)

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