26 August 2019– Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana go into camp today (Monday 26 August) to embark on a journey to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
South Africa qualified for the two previous editions of London 2012 and Rio 2016 – both were under the tutelage of Joseph Mkhonza and Vera Pauw respectively.
Now it is the turn of head coach Desiree Ellis – she was the assistant to Pauw in Brazil – to see Banyana Banyana flying the flag high in Tokyo.
She has already won medals in the COSAFA Cup, led the team at the Women’s AFCON and was also in charge when the squad qualified for and played in their maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
This is another challenge that she is looking forward to.
“As a coach you always want to see the team improving all the time, I am no different. I have been to the Olympic Games and I loved what I saw there – similar to the World Cup but on a different scale, so definitely we intend to guide the team to qualification at this prestigious tournament,” said Ellis.
“It is a long and hard journey starting with Botswana this weekend, and we can’t take them lightly as we are well aware that they have been in a training camp in Europe to prepare for this match, which shows how badly they want to go to the Olympics. We are confident however that with the changes we have made we should return with positive results.”
Banyana Banyana take on neighbours Botswana on Friday, 30 August away, with the second leg of the second round set for Tuesday, 3 September at the Dobsonville Stadium.
Kickoff is at 19h00.
Ellis has announced a squad of 20 players for the fixture, recalling her overseas-based players who all missed the recent COSAFA Women’s Championship in Port Elizabeth due to club commitments. Also returning to the squad is goalkeeper Mapaseka Mpuru, who was busy with schoolwork during the COSAFA Cup.
Missing from the Botswana clash are the injured Thembi Kgatlana and captain Janine van Wyk, as well as Linda Motlhalo who has just recovered from a knee injury sustained at the World Cup.
Banyana Banyana travel to Botswana on Wednesday, 28 August.
They return to South Africa on Saturday, 31 August.
The overall winner of this fixture will face either Zambia or Zimbabwe in the third round.