Mat­lou and Nyan­deni’s World Cup chal­lenge

CityPress - - Sport - SIL­VER SIBIYA sil­ver,[email protected]­press.co.za

Banyana Banyana vet­eran Noko Mat­lou (33) said it would take some­thing spe­cial for her to be se­lected to play again.

With the team hav­ing now qual­i­fied for the Women’s World Cup in France, which starts in June, se­nior play­ers such as Mat­lou and Mpumi Nyan­deni (31) face a mam­moth chal­lenge to fight for their place in the start­ing 11.

“It will take some­thing spe­cial for me to play again,” said Mat­lou this week. “I was se­lected for the re­cently con­cluded Africa Women Cup of Na­tions [Aw­con], so I can help to mo­ti­vate the younger play­ers.”

But she ad­mit­ted that it would be up to Banyana Banyana coach De­siree El­lis to de­cide what hap­pens next.

Mat­lou said she would con­tinue to work hard in the hope of mak­ing the cut for the World Cup squad of 22.

Mat­lou, who has played 147 matches and scored 63 goals, was hardly used dur­ing the re­cent Aw­con tour­na­ment, held in Ghana, where the team lost to Nige­ria on penal­ties af­ter a goal­less draw in the fi­nal.

She only made a cameo ap­pear­ance in the fi­nal 23 min­utes of the game.

Nyan­deni played in the team’s sec­ond game against Equa­to­rial Guinea and scored the sec­ond goal, be­fore be­ing sub­sti­tuted in the 61st minute.

She got an­other chance in the fi­nal game, where she came on to the field in the 73rd minute.

Nyan­deni, who has scored 39 goals for Banyana Banyana, re­ceived her first na­tional call-up in 2002, when El­lis was com­ing to the end of her play­ing days.

“I have played ev­ery big tour­na­ment – the Uefa Women’s Cham­pi­ons League, the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and Aw­con. “Now the only thing miss­ing is for me to play in the World Cup,” the JVW player said.

“I need to work hard to be part of the team that will go to the World Cup, and then work my way up to the start­ing 11.”

She also played for WFC Ros­siyanka in Rus­sia, but came back to South Africa in 2014.

Nyan­deni, who has played 146 matches for the na­tional team, re­vealed that, af­ter the World Cup, she would re­tire from foot­ball.

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACK­PAGEPIX PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACK­PAGEPIX

GRAND FI­NALE Mpumi Nyan­deni has ap­peared in all top women’s foot­ball tour­na­ments and is keen to make her fi­nal mark as part of the Banyana World Cup team Vet­eran player Noko Mat­lou knows that hard work is nec­es­sary to secure her­self a place in the Women’s World Cup squad HOPE­FUL

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