25 February 2018 – Head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Desiree Ellis has the full compliment of her squad following the arrival of goalkeeper Kaylin Swart and midfielder Zanele Nhlapho in Cyprus.
Swart flew in from the United States of America where she is studying, while Nhlapho is a late call-up after the withdrawal of Kholosa Biyana early last week.
The Port Elizabeth-born Swart is studying Sports Management and Marketing, and she will be graduating in May.
Banyana Banyana are in Cyprus to play in the Cyprus Women’s Cup where they will face Slovakia, Hungary and Korea DPR.
This is the 11th Edition of the tournament, which runs from 26 February to 7 March 2018.
The South African delegation arrived in Cyprus on Saturday, 24 February 2018 and held a light training session in the evening.
Swart missed the session, but is optimistic about Banyana Banyana’s chances in the tournament.
“I am excited about the tournament. We have been here a couple of times before and we know what to expect. We have a very good squad, with a strong mindset and we know what we are playing for, and I believe we can compete and have a very good run. We have a good chance of doing well. I have here before, but never got a chance to play, so we have a bit of experience when it comes to this tournament. I believe we will shock a couple of teams because we know what we can do,” said Swart.
“We should use this tournament as a stepping stone for the hectic year ahead. If we want to conquer the world we have to start at home. We definitely want to go to France for the World Cup and this year is going to be a crazy one. We have to do the best we can in every competition, use all the positive to our advantage and I believe we have what it takes to get to the top.”
South Africa’s first opponent in the Cyprus Cup is a clash against Slovakia on Wednesday, 28 February.
Kickoff is at 13h00.
Next up is Hungary on Friday, 2 March at 18h00, with Korea DPR being the last in the group stages on Monday, 5 March at 13h00.
“No game will be easy, they are all good opponents and we are looking forward to the challenge because we are all excited to be back in camp and playing for our country. We have to go into every game with a winning mentality and show what we are capable of,” added Swart.
Swart, who was in goals in the 3-1 loss to Sweden in Cape Town last month, will have to battle it out with Andile Dlamini and Roxanne Barker.
“The good thing is that we have three strong goalkeepers and we have a healthy relationship. We compliment each other big time because we all have different strong points, giving the coaching staff a wonderful headache. All we have to do is work hard and leave the selection to them,” said Swart.
The goalkeeper returns to the USA immediately after the tournament and will be travelling with the Houston Dash-bound trio of Janine van Wyk and recent signings, Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana.
“I am excited about their (Linda and Thembi) move. This is just very good for women’s football in South Africa, and they are all more deserving. They are excellent players, and with Janine there as their mentor, they will do well. If every year we have one or two players going abroad, this will only help Banyana Banyana in the long run – then we have will have even far better players. I hope they take their chances and make the most of it,” concluded Swart.