Houston Dash duo headline SA squad for women’s Afcon

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South Africa coach Des Ellis has named her final squad of 21 players for the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations, as the team goes in search of not only a first continental title, but also a place at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

There were a few surprises in the selection, with the uncapped duo of striker Amanda Mthandi from University of Johannesburg and defender Tiisetso Makhubela of Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies earning their place for the trip to Ghana later this month.

There was no late call for Finland-based Ode Fulutudilu or in-form Rhoda Mulaudzi, who has scored two goals in two games for Canberra United in Australia, but there was a healthy sprinkling of overseas-based players in the team.

This includes Houston Dash duo Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana, as well as Canberra’s Refiloe Jane. Goalkeeper Roxanne Barker, who plays for SC Heerenveen in the Netherlands, and former Dash player Janine van Wyk also feature.

“It was a difficult task to pin down the final 21 players as they all raised their hands to show how much they want to be part of this magnificent team,” Ellis said in a media release from SAFA.7

“But I am confident that the players we have chosen will do the business for South Africa. Too many times we have close to winning the tournament and I think with the preparations we have had, we feel ready for the competition.”

Ellis has also selected four players to be on stand-by and they will travel to Ghana for an international friendly that will be played on November 11, returning to South Africa directly afterwards if they are not needed.

South Africa open their Group B campaign against Nigeria on November 18, before a clash with East African side Kenya three days later, with both those games in Cape Coast.

They close out their pool play against Zambia on November 24 in Accra, with only the top two sides in each pool advancing to the semi-finals.

If South Africa are to book a first ever berth at the World Cup, they will need to finish at least third at the continental championship.