Downs Octet Handed Call-Ups To Banyana Banyana

The South Africa women’s national football team coach Desiree Ellis has named a 25-woman squad to take on Zambia in an international friendly on 12 February 2022. Eight Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies – Andile Dlamini, Karabo Makhurubetshi, Bambanani Mbane, Thalea Smidt, Oratile Mokwena, Lelona Daweti, Melinda Kgadiete and Rhoda Mulaudzi were among the players selected as Banyana Banyana gear up to face the Copper Queens.

All eight players were vital to the treble-winning squad that conquered the Hollywoodbets Super League, COSAFA CAF Women’s Champions League qualifiers and the inaugural edition of the CAF Women’s Champions League in Egypt last season.

For Andile, her call-up represents a reward for perseverance and determination after making a stunning return to the pitch following a long-lay injury off. Her return back to the pitch has been nothing short of phenomenal. Sticks kept three clean sheets at the CAF Women’s Champions League and was named among the Squad of the Tournament, selected by the tournament organizers. 

Karabo Makhurubetshi and Bambanani Mbane equally played vital roles in the treble-winning campaign as Sundowns Ladies were hailed as the Queen of Clean sheets and the reasons were obvious. In 36 games played across the three competitions, the Brazilians kept 21 clean sheets and conceded only 15 times!

For Thalea Smidt, her call-up was particularly a joyous one as it marked her first-ever invitation to the National Team.

“It was a great season for us as we achieved unprecedented success as a unit. Our treble-winning campaign will forever be remembered because we were the first to accomplish it. We have set a standard for ourselves and we have to work very hard to maintain the momentum that we have created. I am excited at my first call-up to the National Team. I plan to excel in my craft by working very hard in training and delivering when called upon. The hard work continues after this call-up and my greatest wish is to get more invitations after this. I cannot wait to showcase my abilities on the National team stage,” stated the tireless midfield dynamo.

The likes of Lelona Daweti and Melinda Kgadiete enjoyed a riveting campaign thanks to their goal-scoring efforts. Daweti finished with 12 strikes in the Hollywoodbets Super League last season while Kgadiete scored eight times in the league and scored once during the CAF Women’s Champions League. Both Oratile Mokwena and Rhoda Mulaudzi also enjoyed a superb season thanks to their mazy runs and ability to multitask (play across the forward line).

The clash against the Zambians is part of Banyana Banyana’s preparations for their last round of African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifiers against Algeria. The Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana are scheduled to host Algeria on home soil on 18 February 2022 at a venue yet to be confirmed before travelling to Northern Africa for the return leg scheduled for 23 February 2022.

The Sundowns Ladies’ octet will link up with other members of the team as they report for camp on Friday 4th February 2022 to begin preparations for the Zambian clash. Coach Desiree’s troops will fly back to South Africa after the Zambian encounter to begin preparations for the Algeria home-and-away showdown.

Banyana Banyana has enjoyed on-pitch success in recent times having dominated the COSAFA Women’s Championship (2017-2020 winners and 7-times overall). The team also won the inaugural Aisha Buhari Cup last year.

We are wishing our Brazilians and the entire National team a wonderful outing against Zambia!

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