26 March 2024 – Banyana Banyana’s preparations for the CAF Women’s Olympic showdown against Nigeria are in full swing as the countdown to the blockbuster match continues. 

Coach Desiree Ellis’ charges face rivals Nigeria in a highly anticipated Fourth Round CAF Women’s Olympic qualifier next month and the winner of this match will compete in Group C at the Paris Games. The Sasol-sponsored South African senior women’s team travel to Abuja in the first leg to tackle Nigeria on 5 April before welcoming their traditional rivals at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on 9 April 2024.

Banyana Banyana assembled for camp in Pretoria on Monday afternoon (25 March 2024) and their first official training session was on Tuesday at the Tuks High Performance Centre (HPC).

The day also served as a Media Day for journalists to interact with the coach and the players ahead of the big encounter against Nigeria. There are currently 23 players in the local-based camp and they are without goalkeeper Andile Dlamini,  who withdrew from the team due to medical reasons. Samkelisiwe Selana has also been withdrawn due to an injury .

Dlamini will be replaced by Regirl Ngobeni while Selana was replaced by Mmabatho Mogale of JVW FC. Ellis has made another addition and Mamokgaase Senyatsi of TUT FC has joined camp. She was not part of the preliminary list announced a few days ago.

Ellis was impressed by what she saw after the first official training session, and she further emphasized the importance of managing the load for the players. 

“It really looks good, the enthusiasm and the intensity,” she said. “We spoke about how big this  game is in our welcome meeting and it shows that everyone is up for it. It was a good session and we had to manage the load since some players played on Thursday and on Sunday.”

Ellis said trimming the squad from the initial 30 players she announced in the preliminary list a few days ago to the final 23 will not be easy, but she added that the camp for the local contingent will give the Banyana Banyana technical team a bit of time to test out combinations.

“We still have a couple of days before the final squad announcement, so I have to make sure that I get the combinations right. I have to make absolutely sure because it won’t be an easy game against Nigeria. They have shown their quality over a period of time and they are still a quality team, so we have to be at our absolute best.

“We have to make sure that we get the combinations right as well as the mix of youth and experience right.” 

Ellis will announce her final squad for the two-legged qualifier against Nigeria on Thursday, 28 March 2024.