South Africa look to the future in Gqeberha

Best finish: Winners (2002, 2006, 2008, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
FIFA Ranking: 54
CAF Ranking: 2
Last five tournaments:
2017 – Winners
2018 – Winners
2019 – Winners
2020 – Winners
2021 – Semifinals

South Africa are seven-time winners of the HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Women’s Championship but will be looking to regain the title in 2022 after finishing a surprise fourth last year following semifinal defeat to Malawi.

Since then they have gone on to be crowned 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations champions and qualified for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in what has been a golden period for the team.

They will be using this regional championship to expand their playing pool as coach Des Ellis does what she always does in COSAFA competition – gives local players the chance to stake a claim for more regular action and perhaps set themselves on the path to a place at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

That makes this a huge opportunity for the players that have been selected, who will work under renowned Under-17 national team coach Simphiwe Dludlu under the banner of next generation of international stars.

“I am glad that I will get a platform to learn more while continuing to do the work I have done at Under-17 and Under-20 level, where we ensure that we have a big pool of players,” Dludlu says.

“I will be assisting coach Desiree in expanding the pool of players for Banyana Banyana as they continue preparing for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“I am excited for the players that we have selected, and the fact that these players will get to play against quality players within the COSAFA region.

“At the moment our region is excelling with two countries going to the FIFA Women’s World Cup. We have two clubs going to represent the region at the CAF Champions League, and this is a right time for us as South Africa to start introducing more players into Banyana Banyana.”
South Africa have a storied history with the COSAFA Women’s Championship as comfortably the most successful side in the competition.

They stormed to the inaugural 2002 regional title, beating Zimbabwe 2-1 in the final as they won all five of their games, scoring 36 goals in the process. That included huge victories over Botswana (14-0) and Mozambique (13-0) in the pool stages.

It was more of the same in 2006 as they won both group stages games against Lesotho (9-0) and Malawi (3-0), before a 4-1 victory over Zimbabwe in the semifinals. They beat Namibia 3-1 in the final to pick up gold.

A clash of fixtures meant they sent an Under-20 side to the 2008 championships, but still won all of their games, including a 3-1 victory over hosts Angola in the final.

But their run was ended by hosts Zimbabwe in the decider in 2011, leaving them with a record of 26 wins from 29 games in the COSAFA Women’s Championships at that point.

They regained their title in 2017 as wins over Lesotho (3-0) and Namibia (3-1) saw them into the knockout stages, where they came from 3-0 down with 13 minutes remaining to draw 3-3 with Zambia and win on penalties. That set up a final with Zimbabwe, where South Africa ran out 2-1 winners.

They had to do it the hard way again in 2018 as wins over Madagascar (2-1), Botswana (1-0) and Malawi (6-0) in the pool stages were followed by a 2-0 success over East African guest nation Uganda in the semifinals and a 2-1 victory over Central African guests Cameroon in the decider.

A much-changed side took part in 2019 but still snatched the trophy as a tournament record 17-0 win over Comoros Islands was followed by further pool wins over Malawi (3-1) and Madagascar (3-0).

They defeated old enemy Zimbabwe 3-1 in the semifinals, before edging Zambia 1-0 in the decider.

They had a much-changed squad in 2020 but still breezed through their pool with three wins over Angola (2-0), Eswatini (5-0) and Comoros Islands (7-0), which set up a semifinal with Malawi that was won 6-2 after a goalless first half.

They took on Botswana in the final and got some revenge for having been knocked out of the 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers by The Mares as South Africa won 2-1 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

The 2021 competition proved a major disappointment as the side beat Malawi in the pool stages and top their pool, but then lost to the SheFlames 3-2 in the semifinals in a shock result.

They played Zambia in the bronze-medal match but were defeated on post-match penalties when the game finished 1-1.

South Africa squad 

Goalkeepers: Kebotseng Moletsane, Dineo Magagula, Tshidi Muruoa

Defenders: Fikile Magama, Cimone Sauls, Koketso Tlailane, Nothando Vilakazi, Tiisetso Makhubela, Lonathemba Mhlongouwe, Thato Letsoso, Sharol Ramaoka

Midfielders: Jamie-Leigh Witbooi, Mmabatho Mogale, Sphumelele Shamase, Oratile Mokwena, Nonhlanhla Mthandi, Sinazo Ntshota, Busisiwe Ndimeni

Strikers: Lelona Daweti, Zethembiso Vilakazi, Michelle Sampson, Amanda Mkhize, Lithemba Sam