30 October 2018– Head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana has trimmed her squad of 31 down to 26, but she needs only 21 to represent South Africa at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations tournament scheduled for Ghana next month (17 November to 1 December).
The squad has been in camp since Sunday, 21 October to kickstart preparations for the competition.
Among them is midfielder Rachel Sebati, who hails from Mankweng in the province of Limpopo.
She was part of the group that won the back to back 2017 and 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship titles in Zimbabwe and South Africa respectively.
“Training has been hard, everyone has been trying to give their best because it is the selection camp, so no one is comfortable, but we are working hard. Preparations are going very well, more so because we came in much much earlier before the start of the tournament, even the new players are able to gel in well with the players that have been long been here, so it is actually good for us,” said Sebati after the squad’s training session.
While she has been an intergral of the squad for over a year, Sebati is not resting on her laurels as Ellis is yet to announce the final squad that will travel to Ghana.
“It’s actually excting, even though we all don’t know who will be in the final team and I hope and pray to be selected, but it’s an honour to be here at the moment,” added Sebati.
Banyana Banyana has been drawn in Group B – where they join defending champions Nigeria, as well as Zambia and Kenya.
“It is going to be very challenging but good experience. Having Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya in our stream makes it a tough group, but I believe we have players capable of doing well in the tournament. We have enough experience in our arsenal with the likes of Leandra (Smeda), Janine (Van Wyk), Noko (Matlou) and Fifi (Refiloe Jane), I feel like we can do well,” said Sebati.
“To be honest, with God’s grace I believe we can do it. I feel we are gelling nicely and our confidence is very high. I can safely say The Sky is the Limit.”
Sebati is one of three players in the current Banyana Banyana squad that was in the South African U-17 Women’s National Team (Bantwana) that qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago under head coach Solly Luvhengo – the others are goalkeeper Kaylin Swart and forward Jermaine Seoposenwe.
The TUT-PTA midfielder was the captain of the team, and is well aware of how exciting it would be return to that stage again.
“It was an awesome experience back then in 2010, and as it was my first time, I really enjoyed myself. Now I would like to have the same experience again, this time with Banyana Banyana – because nothing beats that feeling and you have to be there to experience it yourself,” said Sebati.
“I just can’t imagine how awesome it would be to qualify for the World Cup with them – I think it would be a great honour, but first I have to make the final squad and do well in the AFCON.”
Sebati also took the opportunity to wish the current Bantwana squad all the best in the World Cup in Uruguay.
“All i want to say is that they should enjoy themselves, they should go out there and have fun. I wish the coach, the players, and the entire delegation all the best. i hope they can do better than us and proceed to the second round and make history and a name for themselves. I believe they will,” concluded.
South Africa’s group will be based in the coastal city of Cape Coast.
Banyana Banyana take on Nigeria in the first match on 18 November, before facing Kenya in the second fixture three days later (21 November). Both matches will be played at the Cape Coast Stadium.
The last group stages match will be held in the capital Accra – and it will be against Zambia on 24 November.
In Group A, Ghana is up again Cameroon, Mali and Algeria and will play their matches Accra.
The top two sides in the groups will progress to the semi-finals.
This year’s competition also serves as the African qualifiers to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup – the top three teams will qualify for the World Cup to be held in France in June next year.
SEBATI FACT FILE:
DOB: 03 FEBRUARY 1993
Club: TSHWANE UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY LADIES (TUT-PTA)
Previous clubs: Dikgang Ladies, Mphahlele Ladies, University of Western Cape
Honours: Captain of Bantwana at 2010 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago; Had the honour of handing over the World Cup trophy to Spain during the 2010 FIFA World Cup; 2017 and 2018 COSAFA Women’s Championship winner; 2016, 2017, 2018 USSA Football Champion; 2018 Cyprus Women’s Cup squad