There has been a rise in South African women footballers securing professional contracts overseas with the likes of Lebogang Ramalepe, Noko Matlou and Amanda Mthandi earning contracts to play abroad recently.
Following Banyana’s 2-1 win over Botswana in the regional tournament final at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, coach Desiree Ellis believes that several players in the Cosafa Women’s Championship class of 2020 have proven beyond doubt that they ready to step up and compete at a professional level.
Many of the players that took part in the Championship are still finding their feet in international football with Banyana. Despite this, they have managed to excel and win a fourth consecutive Cosafa title.
“I have no doubt, my phone will be ringing in the next few days to enquire about players in this group. They would have attracted the attention of clubs abroad, and even with their lack of international experience, they are ready technically and tactically,” said Ellis.
“Throughout the week, many of our foreign-based players phoned to wish the team well, so there is a strong camaraderie among the country’s leading players. When we started out this was an untried group of players and many were making their national team debuts.
“We challenged the group to maintain a level of play, and many exceeded that. Some in this squad will now place pressure on players abroad to hold down their place in the national team. It has created a selection headache, but it is a good headache,” added Ellis.
Hildah Magaia was named Player of the Tournament and Sibulele Holweni won the Golden Boot for scoring eight goals much to the delight of Ellis, who is of the opinion that the Safa National Women’s League (SNWL) and Sasol League have raised and improved the standard of women’s football in the country.
“The players really raised their hands and a big congratulations to Magaia for winning Player of the Tournament. She was outstanding. And to Holweni who is still very young (19) who got the top goal scorer. So, congratulations to them.
“The players who had shone in the Sasol League were the ones who were at the forefront of our championship-winning efforts,” said the 57-year-old coach.
“It has also been to our advantage that Safa has offered to the host the tournament. All that remained was for us to build on the advantages of playing at home.”
“To the players, I’d like to say thank you very much for your commitments and efforts over the 25 days. You never said no, you put in the work and you listened attentively, you asked questions, and this is the combination of that. So, congratulations to all the players, to the staff and to everybody who contributed to this team, we are extremely happy and proud.”
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi