6 September 2023 – Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has named a strong squad to face the U.S. women’s national team in two international friendly matches to be played in Cincinnati and Chicago this month.
Ellis has kept faith with the majority of the players who blazed a historic trail in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand recently. The injured Refiloe Jane and Bambanani Mbane will miss the trip to the USA and they have been replaced by Lonathemba Mhlongo and Sinoxolo Cesane.
The former FIFA Women’s World Cup champions will host the Sasol-sponsored South African senior women’s team in Cincinnati at TQL Stadium on 21 September 2023, and in Chicago at Soldier Field on 24 September 2023.
Ellis said the African champions will be highly motivated when they play against the pedigreed Americans in their own backyard.
“This group of Banyana Banyana players is very grounded and they have shown that they can step up at any time. They have shown that they have the mentality, and I think you do not need any motivation when you are playing against the USA. They won’t need any motivation and this is another opportunity to test themselves,” Ellis said. The Banyana Banyana coach said the players have an opportunity to once again show the world what they can do after impressing in Australia and New Zealand. She said the Americans are still one of the best teams in the world and will be tough opposition for the African champions.
“Congratulations to all the players who received the nod from the technical team and were called up by the coach for this assignment,” said Nozipho Mbatha, Sasol Senior Manager: Group Brand and Sponsorship. “Being entrusted with such a responsibility to represent South Africa after Banyana Banyana’s sterling performance in Australia and New Zealand, will bolster each player’s commitment to continue on the trajectory of high performance, inspiring those that follow in their footsteps to dream big, knowing nothing is impossible that which they put their mind to. Banyana Banyana has proven to all of us that consistent handwork contributes towards success. On behalf of Sasol, we wish them all the best.”
The two sides are coming from participating in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, with both registering contrasting fortunes during the tournament held from 20 July – 20 August 2023. The USA made their ninth appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup while the South Africans were making their second.
Banyana Banyana made history at the 2023 global tournament by becoming the first ever South African senior national team (men or women) to make it out of the group stages of a FIFA event. They qualified for the Round of 16 after beating Italy 3-2 in their final group match. The USA, on the other hand, arrived as defending champions but exited the tournament on penalties after a scoreless draw with Sweden in the Round of 16, the first time they have not made the semi-finals at the tournament. It was the earliest exit ever for the now third-ranked four-time World Cup champions.
Coach Ellis’ charges climbed up from 54 to 45 in the latest FIFA rankings, achieving their highest placing on the global list ever. The South African senior women’s team remained second on the continental list behind the top-ranked Super Falcons of Nigeria.
Banyana Banyana 23-member squad for the International Friendly against USA