Head coach of the SASOL-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Desiree Ellis, has announced a squad of 23 players to take part in the 2019 Cyprus Women’s Cup, which runs from 27 February to 6 March.
Ellis has left out three players from the squad of 26 that featured in the two international friendly matches between the Netherlands and Sweden, played in Cape Town last month.
Missing out are goalkeeper Jessica Williams, forward Kelso Peskin and midfielder Hildah Magaia.
“The battle for places in the final squad for the World Cup is becoming tighter and tighter as we get closer to the tournament. And I have said before that starting with the Cyprus Cup, we will be travelling with only 23 players, which is the number that we will take to France as per regulations,” said Ellis.
“But make no mistake, this is by no means the World Cup squad, even though it is very close to what we will select – the tournament kicks off in June and anything can happen. So this is a wakeup call to whoever is not in the squad because the door is never closed anyone until the announcement of the final squad, but also bear in mind that you don’t want to make too many changes so close to the competition unless there is still some exceptional talent out there that we haven’t selected.”
The annual Cyprus Cup is part of South Africa’s preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament, which will be held in France from 7 June to 7 July this year.
Banyana Banyana, who finished in sixth place last year – their highest ever finish – will face Finland, the Czech Republic and Korea DPR in Group A.
“Recently we played the Netherlands and Sweden, and now we are gearing up for Finland, the Czech Republic and Korea DPR at the Cyprus Women’s Cup – what better way to prepare for the World Cup as all these teams, even though some are similar, have contrasting styles of play, and that is just what we need ahead of such a big tournament,” said Ellis.
“We need to be tested as much as possible and I believe these teams will do just that – we could not have asked for more. Next on the list after the Cyprus Cup will be a battle against the World Champions, USA, and by then we will should know exactly where we are in terms of readiness. Our greatest gratitude goes to SAFA and Sasol for all the support they have given this team, which has been immense. All of us from Banyana Banyana really appreciate everything coming our way and we will do our best on the field.”
Banyana Banyana assemble for camp from Wednesday, 20 February and will depart for Cyprus on Saturday, 23 February 2019.
Their first match is against Finland four days later (27 February).
BANYANA BANYANA SQUAD – 2019 CYPRUS WOMEN’S CUP