9 February 2022 – South Africa national women’s team (Banyana Banyana) goalkeeper Andile Dlamini has expressed her excitement upon returning to the national team set up after a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to Covid-19 related challenges and club commitments.

But the effervescent Dlamini is now back with the team for the first time after seven months as the team prepares for the final round of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) against Algeria.

Dlamini is part of coach Desiree Ellis’ 23-woman squad currently camp preparing to face the Copper Queens of Zambia (Zambia national women’s team) in an International friendly scheduled for Saturday, 12 February 2022 in Zambia.

“It is honestly an honour to be back with the national team after a long time. I still say that in order to return to the national team, you have to work hard and the coaches have to be convinced with your performance and I believe I worked hard to return back to the national set up,” said Dlamini.

Dlamini has been appointed as one of the three captains together with Janine Van Wyk and Sibulele Holweni. She also touched on the importance of leadership in the current Banyana Banyana squad comprising of youth and experience.

“Leadership is very important, especially when you are working with the youth. The senior players are already aware of Banyana Banyana’s culture and when it comes to the youth, you have to sit down with them and pass down that culture while also assisting them to build confidence because in order for them to do their best, they need to be free and happy.

“As a leader it’s also important to understand that you are a link between the players and the coaches. So I am very honoured and grateful for this role and I will do my best to help everyone perform to best of their ability,’’ added Dlamini.

The shot-stopper believes the encounter against Zambia will be important in building mental toughness as the side will play away from home.

“The preparation against Zambia is very important to assess where we are as a team and our match fitness levels because we have not been playing for a while. It also prepares us mentally because we will be playing away from home which takes us out of our comfort zone.”  

The agile goalkeeper said the upcoming qualifier against Algeria will be very crucial for the entire team because there is a lot at stake.

“We have to qualify for the AWCON. We will do our best to win, improve our mentality and let God do the rest,’’ she concluded.