'Amanda synonymous with Banyana'

At the age of just 29, Dlamini on Tuesday publicly announced her decision to call time on her international career, after over a decade in the colours of the women's national team.

Ellis has admitted she is saddened by the departure of the JVW FC attacker but is confident of finding a worthy replacement for the future.

“This is a sad day for South African women’s football because Amanda has been an integral part of the game for so long," Ellis told the SAFA website.

"Her name was synonymous with the Banyana Banyana. And even though she had long relinquished the captain’s armband, many still refer to her to this day as the captain of Banyana Banyana because of her contribution to the growth of the national team.

“It is also sad to see her depart the scene because I have known her since she was young and have seen her grow. Amanda has been an icon and a role model to many players, especially the young ones.

"We will surely miss her presence as she had a lot of influence both on and off the pitch. She has left big shoes to fill and we are hopeful that with the talent that we have, we will find someone to run with the baton.”

A former Banyana midfielder herself, Ellis understands the difficulty in deciding the right time to retire and has praised Dlamini for her bold step.

“I must admit this is not an easy decision to make and, as a former player, I know because I have been there," she added.

"As a player there comes a time when you feel the passion is still there but the drive is no longer the same, and you spend weeks and even months thinking about whether to retire or to continue.

"It is a brave decision she has made and I must commend her for making a decision.”

Despite having not been caled up in over a year, Ellis says she was hoping to give Dlamini another look-in when Banyana take on Sweden in a high-profile international friendly in Cape Town on January 21, but will now look to Sunflowers midfielder Xolisile Mnikathi.

“After a year’s absence from the national team, we were looking forward to working with her again in the Sweden match, it is unfortunate that she had to go now," Ellis said.

"I can only wish her all the best in her new adventure. She is a magnificent player and we will miss her contribution on and off the field.

“In her place we will call up Xolisile Mnikathi of Sunflowers in KwaZulu Natal. She was one of the shining stars at the 2017 Sasol League National Championship in Nelspruit.”