Banyana Banyana head coach Joseph Mkhonza has announced the 22 players for the forthcoming annual 12-Nation Cyprus Women's Cup scheduled to take place from 6-13 March 2013. The new-look squad has five new faces.
The final selection for the Cyprus Women's Cup squad took place following an intense work out which saw the national team coach and his technical team trim down the squad from the original 25 players to 22.
The squad has been training at the North West University, High Performance Centre in Potchefstroom since Monday.
The five new players to make it onto the squad are goalkeepers, Kaylin Swart who plays her club football for University of the Western Cape Ladies club, Mahlatsi Mogola of the Tshwane University of Technology Ladies football club, TUT Ladies FC central midfielder Zanele Chiya and Vuyo Mkhabela of the UWC Ladies FC. Shiwe Nongwanya of Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies completes the contingent of the new caps to the Banyana Banyana squad that will travel to Cyprus.
Swart, Mkhabela and Nongwanya are graduates of the SA U-20 Women's National team (Basetsana).
The squad sees the return of two key players, Nomathemba Ntsibande and Gloria Thato who were not part of the squad during the national teams' London Olympics campaign and the African Women's Championship hosted by Equatorial Guinea last year.
The bulk of the squad is made up of the players that took part in the London Olympics and coach Mkkhonza is hoping that the experience carried from the Olympics will assist the team in climbing up the rankings after this year's Cyprus Cup competition.
The Sasol-sponsored and high-riding Banyana squad though, will be without the services of three overseas-based players. These are Russia-based Nompumelelo Nyandeni who has to honour club commitments, Kylie-Ann Louw and Roxanne Barker who have both been held back due to study commitments at their respective universities in the United States.
Head coach, Joseph Mkhonza said he was confident the squad selected has what it takes to conquer the world and will try some new combinations before Monday's departure.
"The players worked very hard during the training camp and they all showed a lot of potential which made selection all tougher for me and the technical team. We have included new young players coming from the Basetsana squad and I am looking forward to seeing them perform to the best of their ability in the Banyana Banyana squad," said Mkhonza.
UWC Ladies FC goal-minder Swart said she was excited at her first call up to the Banyana Banyana squad saying it was always her ambition to play for the senior national team.
"A call up to the senior women's national squad has really been a huge fillip for me. I have been working hard for this position and I am glad that the coaches saw the potential in me. Being one of the youngsters in the squad, I hope to gain the required experience and grow as a national team player and see myself becoming a regular player in the Banyana Banyana squad," said Swart.
Kaylin has been a key member of the junior women's national teams playing at the U17 (Bantwana) and U20 (Basetsana) national teams. She represented the Bantwana during the FIFA U17 Women's World Cup played in the Caribbean in 2010.
Nomathemba Ntsibane has welcomed the national team call up after an extended absence from the national team, missing out on the Olympics and the African Women's Championship in the process.
"It's exciting to be back in squad after a long absence. I have been working hard throughout my rehabilitation and it is nice to be back with the girls again."
Cyprus Women's Cup Fixtures:
Group A - Larnaca
Group B - Larnaca
Group C - Aija Napa