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Buoyant Banyana back to full strength for Wafcon semi against Zambia

Banyana Banyana's Jermaine Seoposenwe and Kholosa Biyana during their 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations training session at Stade El Bechir in Casablanca, Morocco, on July 17 2022.
Banyana Banyana's Jermaine Seoposenwe and Kholosa Biyana during their 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations training session at Stade El Bechir in Casablanca, Morocco, on July 17 2022.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

You could sense the optimism at Banyana Banyana’s final training session at the El Bachir mini-stadium in Casablanca, Morocco, on Sunday afternoon ahead of Monday’s semifinal against Zambia in the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (Wafcon).

Banyana had many reasons to be positive and confident. One factor that has lifted up their spirits is that they boast an almost full-strength squad for the crunch tie againstZambia at Casablanca’s Stade Mohammad V (7pm SA time).

An unspecified number of players had tested positive for Covid-19 and had to sit out last Thursday’s 1-0 quarterfinal win over Tunisia, which was a blow to the team that came along with star attacker Thembi Kgatlana being ruled out of the Wafcon by injury.

There are no positive Covid-19 cases in the SA camp this time.

This was confirmed by the team’s media officer Sinethemba Mbatha, who added that only Sibulele Holweni was being monitored by the doctors after sustaining a knee injury that forced her off the game against Tunisia.

Holweni’s slot at left-back was taken by Karabo Dhlamini at halftime. She trained in patches on Sunday with a heavily-strapped knee.

“The entire team is negative — both players and staff. Only Sibulele Holweni is being assessed,” Mbatha said.

Meanwhile, SA Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan asked Banyana to beat Zambia to commemorate International Nelson Mandela Day in style. The Safa boss visited Banyana after their training session at El Bachir Stadium on Sunday.

“Our country at this time needs icons. Madiba is a global icon and now the world is talking about Banyana,” Jordaan said in Morocco.

“Banyana was Madiba’s team. Madiba loved football and supported this team. Banyana are our ambassadors, so I implore them to win against Zambia to celebrate Mandela Day in style.”

Banyana qualified for the 2023 World Cup by reaching the Wafcon semis.

* Sihle Ndebele is in Morocco courtesy of Sasol


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