The USA’s three-game Send-Off Series, presented by Volpi Foods, to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins against South Africa on May 12 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. (1:30 p.m. PT on FOX). Here are five things to know about South Africa, which is one of four teams making is first Women’s World Cup appearance:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Mapaseka Mpuru (TUKS FC), 20-Kaylin Swart (Golden Stars), 16-Andile Dlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns FC)
DEFENDERS (8): 2-Lebohang Ramalepe (Ma-Indies FC), 3-Nothando Vilakazi (FC Gintras Universitas, Lithuania), 4-Noko Matlou (Ma-Indies FC), 5-Janine van Wyk – C (JVW FC), 7-Karabo Dhlamini (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), 13-Bambanani Mbane (Bloemfontein Celtic FC), 14-Tiisetso Makhubela (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), 17-Bongeka Gamede (UWC)
MIDFIELDERS (9): 6-Mamello Makhabane (JVW FC), 10-Sibulele Holweni (Sophokama/HPC), 11-Ongeziwe Ndlangisa (Sunflower Ladies), 12-Jermaine Seoposenwe (FC Gintras Universitas, Lithuania), 15-Refiloe Jane (Canberra United FC, Australia), 18-Nompumelelo Nyandeni (JVW FC), 19-Kholosa Biyana (UKZN), 21-Busisiwe Ndimeni (TUKS FC), 23-Mapula Kgoale(Louisiana Tech University)
FORWARDS (3): 8-Ode Fulutudilu (Malaga FC, Spain), 9-Amanda Mthandi (University of Johannesburg), 22-Rhoda Mulaudzi (Canberra United FC, Australia).
Building on the Olympics
This will be South Africa’s first Women’s World Cup, but it did qualify for the 2016 Olympics where it was drawn into a tough Group E and played with distinction, falling 1-0 to Sweden, 2-0 to China and tying 0-0 with Brazil. In France, South Africa was drawn into a difficult Group B in France where it will face Germany, China PR and Spain.
South Africa qualified for France by finishing second at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations in Ghana. South Africa opened its tournament with a massive 1-0 win against Nigeria on a goal from Thembi Kgatlana who played last season in the NWSL for the Houston Dash. South Africa followed that with a 7-1 win vs. Equatorial Guinea and a 1-1 draw with Zambia, but that was good enough to win Group B and earn a semifinal berth against Mali. Banyana Banyana then registered a 2-0 victory on goals from Kgatlana and Lebogang Ramalepe to earn its World Cup berth. South Africa then battled Nigeria to a 0-0 tie through regulation and OT in the championship game before falling 4-2 in penalty kicks.
Breaking Down the Roster
Kgatlana won the Golden Boot at the qualifying tournament with five goals while Refiloe Jane, Linda Motlhalo, Amanda Mthandi, Mpumi Nyandeni, Lebogang Ramalepe and Jermaine Seoposenwe had a goal each. Captain Janine van Wyk was the first South African signed to the NWSL and played in 2017-2018 with the Houston Dash. One player called up plays at a U.S. college in Nomvula Kgoale (Louisiana Tech).
Ellis Leading Banyana, Banyana
South Africa head coach Desiree Ellis took over from Scotland’s Vera Pauw in 2016. Ellis played for South Africa as a midfielder and was a founding member Women's National Team and its second captain. South Africa is widely known by its nickname Banyana Banyana, or “The Girls, The Girls.”