12 October 2018 –The thought of forming part of a Banyana Banyana squad that is to qualify for their first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance, excites Banyana defender Thato Letsoso greatly.
Letsoso, who walked away with the Sports Woman of the Year accolade at the University of Johannesburg’ (UJ) sports awards which took place at the Randpark Golf Club in Randburg on Thursday (11 October 2018), stated that national senior women’s side have since show positive signs that they were well on their way on achieving such.
The UJ captain was simply referring to a positive start which saw Banyana Banyan defend their COSAFA Women’s Champions title after beating Cameroon 2-1 in the tournament’s final played on 24 September 2018.
After that, they travelled to Chile where they played two friendly matches against a national side who are ranked 11 places above them on the FIFA rankings.
Banyana lost 2-1 in their first game, before they held Chile to a 2-2 draw in their second international friendly.
Letsoso said it felt great to be counted as one of the big winners at her University’s award ceremony on the night. However, the diminutive hardworking defender added that her focus has now shifted towards making sure that she makes it into the final squad that is to represent South Africa in the upcoming biennial continental showdown.
“We have to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup (set to take place in France next year),” Letsoso said. “We just have to. I believe that we really need to prepare well for it. I know that coaching staff is working really hard to ensure we are ready for the event as well. We will just have to give it our all when we get there.
“This is my first ever massive individual award as a sports person,” Letsoso added. “And I am really grateful to have walked away with it on the night.”
Letsoso, who started out playing at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria under SAFA coach Sheryl Botes at age 13, stated that her primary focus is now centred on making sure she becomes a regular start under Banyana coach, Desiree Ellis’ first eleven.
“The road which got me to where I am now was never easy,” Letsoso said. “I started out at the High Performance Centre where I was brought in as a 13-year old who all she wanted was to play football. Coach Sheryl Botes was the one who developed me.
“My current focus now is centred on being in Banyana Banyana’s final travelling squad for the upcoming AFCON tournament,” Letsoso added. “Not only that, I want to start as well. Achieving these two goals is not going to be easy, though. However, these are the two goals which I have set for myself, and I will stop at nothing until I achieve them.”