Banyana Banyana are just four matches away from a place at the 2011 FIFA women’s World Cup to be held in Germany in June next year, and the 26-strong national provisional squad worked hard in the chilly conditions during training in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape today.
Following their 2-all draw in an international friendly fixture played against Mali in Tembisa on Saturday, the ‘closed to the media’ signs went up as national coach Augustine Makalakalane and his technical personnel put the players through their paces as the countdown to the African showpiece to be held in Ekurhuleni near Johannesburg from October 31 to November 14 gains momentum.
“The Banyana Banyana squad will train in Stellenbosch for the rest of the week, before we move back to training at altitude in the build up to the CAF African Championship 2010,” said Makalakalane.
“Banyana Banyana needs to finish among the top two countries at the eight-nation event in order to make it to next year’s FIFA women’s World Cup and right now, we have cut the squad off from the outside world in order to focus on the task at hand. Special thanks must go to Sasol for the excellent support that they have given as a proud sponsor of Banyana Banyana.”
But Makalakalane stressed that the squad to compete at the African event is by no means finalised.
“If I need or spot players over the next few days, I will add to the group as we need the best of the best to represent Banyana Banyana,” said the coach.
“There is no entitlement to places allowed here. Only the best conditioned, disciplined and skilled players will make the final squad.”
Cape Town-based striker Leandra Smeda will rejoin the national squad today after exam commitments.
“The Banyana Banyana team management are in touch with the relevant tertiary institutions to see if some of the players’ examinations set for November can be postponed to late in the month,” said Makalakalane.
“We certainly don’t want to stand in the way of a player’s education, but are trying to find a means so that the player is mentally at ease with their respective training and study situations.”