South Africa’s national women’s football team this week begins its quest to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
The team, nicknamed Banyana Banyana, go into camp on Monday to prepare for a qualifying match against neighbours Botswana on Friday. The first leg will be played away, with the second leg scheduled for Tuesday, September 3, at the Dobsonville Stadium.
The Banyana squad will travel to Botswana on Wednesday and return on Saturday.
The eventual winner of the two-leg contest will face either Zambia or Zimbabwe in the next qualifying round.
Banyana coach Desiree Ellis announced a squad of 20 players for the game against Botswana, with star player Thembi Kgatlana, captain Janine van Wyk and Linda Motlhalo all absent due to injury.
South Africa qualified for the two previous editions of the Olympics – London 2012 and Rio 2016.
As a coach, Ellis has already won medals in the Cosafa Cup, led the team at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and was also in charge when the squad qualified for and played in their maiden Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
This is another challenge that she is looking forward to.
“As a coach, you always want to see the team improving all the time, I am no different. I have been to the Olympic Games and I loved what I saw there; it’s similar to the World Cup but on a different scale, so we intend to guide the team to qualification at this prestigious tournament,” said Ellis.
“It is a long and hard journey, starting with Botswana and we can’t take them lightly. They have been training in Europe to prepare for this match, which shows how badly they want to go to the Olympics.”
In partnership with ANA and Sports Leo