Banyana fancy their chances in Buhari CupThomas Kwenaite
By Mandla Dladla and Andile Dladla
The inaugural Aisha Buhari Cup scheduled for Nigeria on Wednesday September 15 offers the continent’s greatest rivals an opportunity to fine tune their squads ahead of the African Women Nations Cup which would also serve as the 2023 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has assembled her strongest team ever squad but the invitation has been spiced with the selection of a few rookie including goalkeeper Regirl Ngobeni who got the nod ahead of a couple of more established goalkeepers.
But Ngobeni is aware that she cannot take her selection for granted and needs to double her efforts if she wants to cement her place in the senior national squad and if given a chance to play, grab it with both hands.
“Going up against strong teams like Cameroon and Ghana is going to be hard but we have prepared well,” said Ngobeni. “We’ve played against both teams before in the past but there has been changes over the past few years so things are going to be different this time around.
“We are trying to familiarize ourselves and strategize around the type of football that they would be playing in order to counter them,” said the University of Western Cape goalkeeper who has been in outstanding form in the Hollywood Bets Super League.
“We have been involved in a team building exercise to test ourselves as individuals. So, going into this tournament is vitally important because we need to build team spirit going forward.”
But there is no doubt that the tournament will pit the continent’s best women teams against each other with Morocco and Mali lately punching above their weight in recent years.
The tournament, initially scheduled to get underway on Monday, was shifted further to start on Wednesday following requests by some of the participating teams to enable their foreign-based players enough time to rest before starting proceedings.
Tournament organizers acceded to the requests and hosts Nigeria or the “Super Falcons” will get the ball rolling with a tight fixture against up and coming African power houses Morocco at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena before Ghana sweeps the floor with Cameroon in the evening fixture.
Two days later, Mali enters the fray against Nigeria as well as South Africa who would dust off the cobwebs against Cameroon in the later match of the double-header programme.
South African Squad:
Goalkeepers: Kaylin Swart (JVW FC) and Regirl Ngobeni (University of Western Cape)
Defenders: Lebohang Ramalepe (Dinamo Minsk); Janine van Wyk (Glasgow City); Tiisetso Makhubele (Tshwane University of Technology); Bambanani Mbane (Mamelodi Sundowns); Koketso Tlailane (Tshwane University of Technology).
Midfielders: Ongeziwe Ndlangisa (Sunflower FC); Mamello Makhabane (JVW FC); Thembi Kgatlana (Atletico Madrid); Refiloe Jane (AC Milan); Linda Motlhalo (Djurgardens FC); Robyn Moodaly (JVW FC); Noxolo Cesane (University of Western Cape) and Gabriela Salgado (JVW FC)
Strikers: Sibulele Holweni (University of Western Cape); Melinda Kgadiete (Mamelodi Sundowns FC) and Hildah Magaia (Moron BK).