BULAWAYO – Interim head coach of the South African Senior Women’s National Team, Desiree Ellis, has made eight changes to the team that will take on Botswana in their final Group C clash of the 2017 COSAFA Women’s Championship.
Two players will be making their debut when the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana and Botswana will do battle on Sunday at Luveve Stadium, Bulawayo (start 16h30).
In goals, Ellis has gone for the rotation system to give all the goalkeepers a chance in the tournament.
Yolula Tsawe will be between the sticks – Andile Dlamini started in the first match against Lesotho, while Roxanne Barker took over against Namibia.
Captain Refiloe Jane, Bambanani Mbane and Koketso Tlailane are the only survivors from the last match.
In defence, Mbane will play alongside the experienced Noko Matlou (who gets her first start in the tournament) while Zanele Nhlapo will earn her first cap for Banyana Banyana.
Also making her debut is midfielder Nkoikoi Mabina. Jane, Tlailane, Nompumelelo Nyandeni and Rachel Sebati will support her in the middle of the park.
Rhoda Mulaudzi and Nwabisa Kolisi return to the starting line-up after starting on the bench in the second match against Namibia. Both started in the opening clash against Lesotho.
With these changes, Ellis has ensured that all the players get a run in the tournament.
“We are in the semi-finals after playing two back to back matches where we got six points – this has allowed us to rest a few players to prevent injuries due to fatigue. When we played Namibia in the last match, the last 15 minutes were very taxing on the players but they pulled through because of their mental strength,” said Ellis.
“Despite the changes, we still have enough experience on the field to get the result we need. Playing the same players all the time, especially under these hot conditions, can have a positive and negative impact. The positive is that you maintain the momentum and will get the required results but the downside is that you could also pick up unnecessary injuries due to fatigue.
"Not using some players might count against you in the latter stages of the tournament because when the time comes for them to be called upon, they would not have been tested. So it’s important that we give them a run now, and in that way, we also keep the team for every match.”
Lebohang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Regina Mogolola, Leandra Smeda and Chantelle Esau – who all started in the first two matches – will be on the bench.