Head coach of the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana, Desiree Ellis, has named a squad of 22 players to take on former World Champions Japan in an international friendly match scheduled for Sunday, 10 November 2019.

The match will be played at the Kitakyushu Stadium in Fukuoka, Japan.K ickoff is at 05h45 South African time – Japan is seven hours ahead).

“This is a big test for us, more so because it comes at the back of a loss in the Olympic qualifiers. This is a great test of character for the players as we will be facing one of the most formidable sides in women’s football, who have won the World Cup,” said Ellis.

“We also haven’t played in a while but I am confident that with most players having featured for their clubs regularly, we will stand our ground. Once again a big thank you to SAFA and our sponsor Sasol for making this match happen – we are eternally grateful.”

Ellis has kept the bulk of the squad that did duty in Banyana Banyana’s last match – against Botswana in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers early in September.

The former Ellis has called up Nomvula Kgoale, who was last in the national team in the friendly match agaisnt the USA. Also returning are China-based Thembi Kgatlana and Linda Motlhalo – the duo missed the Botswana clash, while Jessica Williams and Ongeziwe Ndlangisa also got the nod. Both were part of the pre-World Cup training squad.

There is only one new cap – Lelona Daweti who plays for Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies. She has been capped in the U-17 and U-20 Women’s National Teams.

“This is a once-off game where you can’t make wholesale changes or bring in many new players but I believe we have selected the best available players we have, more so because some of those we wanted are busy with exams,” added Ellis.

Missing out are captain Janine van Wyk, who is still recovering from a knee injury – Italy-based Refiloe Jane will lead the team.

Also not travelling to the Far East are Hilda Magaia, Amanda Mthandi, Bongeka Gamede, Karabo Dhlamini and Sibulele Holweni who are all busy with exams.

This will be the second ever ever meeting between the two nations, and Ellis knows all too well that they are a very formidable side.

The first match was at the London Olympic Games in July 2012 in the group stages, and it ended in a goalless draw at Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.

Some of the players from the current squad that was at that match include Robyn Moodaly, Nothando Vilakazi, Leandra Smeda, Noko Matlou, Refiloe Jane.

This is also a special game for Smeda who could be joining the 100-cap club that includes Janine van Wyk, Amanda Dlamini, Portia Modise, Mamello Makhabane, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Matloue and Jane.

Japan has invited Banyana Banyana as part of their practice as they will be hosting the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – they have automally qualified.

The Games run from 24 July to 9 August.

The Asians are ranked 10thin the world, with Banyana Banyana coming in at 55. The squad will assemble on Tuesday, 5 November in Johannesburg and travel the same day to Japan.

Goalkeepers

Andile DLAMINI, (Mamelodi Sundowns FC ), Kaylin SWART (UNATTACHED), Jessica WILLIAMS (Spurs WFC )

Defenders

Lebogang RAMALEPE Ma- Indies FC, Bambanani MBANE (Celtic FC), Nothando VILAKAZI (UNATTACHED), Tiisetso MAKHUBELA ( Tshwane University of Technology Pretoria) Noko Matlou (1st Touch Academy), Ongeziwe NDLANGISA (Sunflower FC Durban)

Midfielders

Leandra SMEDA (Vittsjo GIK Sweden) , Mamello MAKHABANE (JVW FC Johannesburg ), Busisiwe NDIMENI (Tshwane University of Technology Pretoria) , Refiloe JANE (AC Milan), Kholosa BIYANA (University of Western Cape), Linda MOTLHALO (Beijing BG Phoenix FC), Robyn MOODALY (JVW FC), Noxolo CESANE (University of Western Cape), Nomvula KGOALE ( Tshwane University of Technology),

Forwards

Jermaine SEOPOSENWE (UNATTACHED), Rhoda MULAUDZI (Mamelodi Sundowns FC ), Thembi KGATLANA (Beijing BG Phoenix FC), Lelona DAWETI (Mamelodi Sundowns FC)