Banyana eye SWC qualification

2014-06-12 21:22
Mamello Makhabane (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Having put adversity behind her, the latest member of the Banyana Banyana 50-cap club, Mamello Makhabane, is aiming to guide the national team to qualification for the 2015 Fifa Women's World Cup.

The midfielder, who agonisingly missed the 2012 London Olympics with a groin injury, was on the mend.

"It was very painful when I had to withdraw from the team. I had worked hard for the team to qualify for the Olympics, but I had to accept it," Makhabane said on Thursday.

"I managed to pull through, and it's a blessing to be back in the team. I have to continue working hard and help the team to qualify for the World Cup."

The 4-0 thrashing South Africa handed down to Botswana in Vanderbijilpark at the weekend was a watershed victory for Makhabane, as she became the eighth player in Banyana history to reach the 50 cap milestone.

"It has been an honour to play for my country, and reaching 50 caps was not easy. There were moments when I thought my time was over in the national team," said Makhabane, who plays for Palace Super Falcons from Gauteng.

Makhabane joined the exclusive 50 club alongside: Portia Modise (107 caps), Janine van Wyk (97), Nompumelelo Nyandi (96), Noko Matlou (91), Kylie-Ann Louw (75), Amanda Dlamini (67) and Nothando Vilakazi (50).

The 26-year-old's journey with the national team started in 2005 in an international friendly match against Zimbabwe at the Isak Steyl Stadium at the Vaal University of Technology -- the same venue as the match against Botswana.

"It feels like I have gone full circle, I don't know whether it was a coincidence that I played my 50th cap where it all started for me."

The Kutlwanong-born (Free State) star, who worked as an aviation officer at the OR Tambo International Airport, was affectionately known as 'Jabu' because of her style of play, which resembled SuperSport United's dribbling wizard Jabu Mahlangu.

Banyana had qualified for the ninth edition of the African Women's Championships scheduled for October 11 - 25 in Namibia this year, where they would have a chance to qualify for next year's World Cup.

The top three teams from the African champs would automatically qualify for the 2015 Women's World Cup to be held in Canada.

Read more on:    banyana banyana  |  johannesburg  |  soccer

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