Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis has praised the quality shown by her preliminary 33-player squad in preparation for the 2022 Awcon.
"I've been very impressed. There’s been a lot of players that have got callbacks, there’s a lot of players who have returned from injury, and there’s a lot of players that we’ve brought in for the first time. I've been pleasantly surprised by the fitness levels," Ellis tells KickOff.
The squad assembled in Johannesburg on Friday last week and were put through their paces with 33 players vying for a place in the final 21-woman squad that will travel to Morocco for the African Women's Cup of Nations (Awcon). On Monday, Ellis and her technical team will have the tough task of selecting the final 21 players.
"It’s a headache because we can’t take everyone but it’s the kind of headache you want to have," says Ellis.
"It shows that everyone is stepping up and it shows that the club coaches are working well with their players."
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Banyana were drawn in Group C of the competition alongside Burundi, Botswana and defending champions Nigeria.
Burundi are unranked in both FIFA and CAF rankings while Botswana ranks at 154 in the FIFA rankings and 29 in the CAF rankings. Reigning champions Nigeria occupy 1st place in the CAF rankings and 39 in the FIFA rankings.
Banyana’s opening match will be against the Super Falcons on 4 July. Interestingly, the sides were also drawn in the same group at the last Awcon in 2018 and met again in the final game of that edition where Banyana fell 4-3 on penalties.