The South African women's national football team, affectionately known as Banyana Banyana, recently came together at OR Tambo International Airport for an important mission.
They embarked on a journey to Central Africa, where they will face the Democratic Republic of Congo in the first leg of the 2024 CAF Women’s Olympic qualifiers on October 25, 2023.
This encounter marks the beginning of Banyana's quest to secure their place in the prestigious Olympic Games.
The first leg is set to take place in Kinshasa, with the return leg scheduled for Orlando Stadium next Monday.
What's even more exciting for fans is the opportunity to watch their favorite team in action.
Tickets for the match at Orlando Stadium are free of charge and can be collected directly from the stadium.
The availability of these tickets for collection at the Soweto venue will begin on Thursday, October 26, 2023.
This offers an excellent chance for supporters to rally behind Banyana Banyana and show their unwavering support.
Banyana Banyana squad
Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart, Katlego Moletsane
Defenders: Karabo Dhlamini, Fikile Magama, Janine Van Wyk, Faith Nokuthula, Asanda Hadebe, Tiisetso Makhubela, Lonathemba Mhlongo, Bongeka Gamede
Midfielders: Linda Motlhalo, Kholosa Biyana, Nomvula Kgoale, Amogelang Motau, Ayesha Moosa
Forwards: Nicole Michael, Gabriela Salgado, Noxolo Cesane, Melinda Kgadiete, Wendy Shongwe, Hildah Magaia, Thembi Kgatlana, Samkelisiwe Selana, Jermaine Seoposenwe
The squad is packed with talent, and Banyana Banyana's fans eagerly anticipate a thrilling journey in the 2024 CAF Women’s Olympic qualifiers.
With their sights set on Olympic glory, the team is ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead, starting with the crucial matches against DR Congo.
South Africa will be hoping to make their mark on the international stage once again, and the support of their dedicated fans will undoubtedly play a significant role in their journey.
Banyana Banyana without key players
As Banyana Banyana prepares for their crucial encounters against the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 2024 CAF Women's Olympic qualifiers, they will be missing some key players for various reasons, including injuries, visa issues, and exam schedules.
Despite these challenges, the team remains optimistic.
Speaking at the Sasol League National Championships in Bloemfontein, Thembi Kgatlana expressed confidence in the strong 25-member squad assembled by head coach Desiree Ellis.
Kgatlana emphasized that while they regret the absence of key players, they should not use it as an excuse, as they have a capable team ready to face the challenges presented by the DRC.
Kgatlana highlighted the importance of playing matches outside of South Africa and the experience gained by senior players in the team, which will be invaluable in these qualifiers.
These qualifiers also hold a special significance as they mark the farewell of one of the icons of African football, defender Janine van Wyk.
Van Wyk, who is the second most internationally capped player on the continent with 183 caps, is poised to make history by potentially surpassing Egypt's Ahmed Hassan as the highest capped player, male or female, in Africa if she plays both matches against the DRC.
Kgatlana emphasized the importance of honoring players like Van Wyk who have made significant sacrifices for their country and families.
Their dedication to the national team and their contributions to the sport deserve recognition and celebration.
As Banyana Banyana faces these critical matches, they do so with respect for the legacy of players like Van Wyk and a commitment to achieving success in the qualifiers.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago