BANYANA Banyana vice-captain Refiloe Jane and striker Rhoda Mulaudzi have secured themselves international contracts and will spend next season playing for Canberra United in the W League, the top division of women’s football in Australia.
The club on Monday confirmed the signing of the South African pair, who had been on trial. They became the first South African women to sign for an Australian top-flight club.
The duo have been involved with the Canberra United Winter Program as part of their trial process, and Head Coach Heather Garriock said the two have impressed her in their short time in Canberra.
“In their short time here in Canberra, Fifi and Rhoda have been very impressive. It was hard for them to get here, and then to come into a different environment and play. But they have done very well to adapt and really stood out to me.'”
Garriock added: “Fifi’s technical ability in midfield is simply outstanding, and in Rhoda I can see the pace and aggression that I’m looking for up front,” she said.
Jane, 26, represented Banyana at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games and captained South Africa in last year’s Cosafa Cup success, with the Tshwane University of Technology midfielder revealing her excitement to African Times of her move abroad.
“When we got the news that we got the contracts I couldn’t believe that it was happening. I feel very humbled and very excited and I had mixed emotions actually and couldn’t just express my excitement t at that moment. It was not easy but we had enough motivation,” said the deputy skipper.
Mulaudzi (28) is a striker for third-placed Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies.
According to Mulaudzi, who was born and bred at Tshimbutse Malonga in Limpopo, she had been confident before the pair went to the trials down under, that they would make it.
“I knew I was going to make it because I believe in myself. Not that I’m undermining other players but what I have other players don’t have. I’m very quick and have been that way since I started playing soccer when I was five with boys. I want to be leading top goal scorer when the season ends that side. I would also want to attract other contracts from Asia or Europe,” said Molaudzi.
They join Linda Motlhalo, Thembi Kgatlana, Ode Fulutudilu and Leandra Smeda as current or former Banyana players who have signed overseas contracts this year.
Canberra finished fifth last season, and are two-time winners of the league – which only started in 2008 – having last lifted the trophy in the 2014/15 season.
Meanwhile Banyana national team head coach, Desree Ellis, has announced her 20 women’s squad for the upcoming Cosafa championship taking place from the 12th to the 22 of September in Port Elizabeth.
As defending champions, Banyana will this year host the annual Cosafa Women’s Champs for the first time and will be expected will be expected as hosts to reclaim the trophy they claimed in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe last year.
Speaking at a press briefing in Johannesburg on Monday, Ellis says they want to play well in this tournament to build confidence for the Women’s Afcon and World Cup qualification.
The Cosafa Cup also serves as a qualifier for the World Cup qualification next year with the Women’s Afcon also in the near future.
“The Cosafa Cup is important to us because we not only want to win it again but also play well enough to build confidence for the Women’s Afcon with World Cup qualification in mind. We also want to work hard on our finishing so that we can convert the chances that we create into goals, that’s going to be really important for us,” Ellis said
The coach has named a strong squad that boasts both local and international-based stars and the squad will again be captained by Janine van Wyk during the tournament.
Lithuania-based striker Leandra Smeda has been left out of the squad, due to her commitments in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Following her recent move to Australia’s Women’s League, Refiloe Jane keeps her place in the side. However, compatriot Rhoda Mulaudzi has since missed out.
Banyana COSAFA squad:
Goalkeepers: Kaylin Swart, Roxanne Barker, Andile Dlamini
Defenders: Lebohang Ramalepe, Nothando Vilakazi, Janine van Wyk (c), Bambanani Mbane, Regina Mogolola.
Midfielders: Kgaelebane Mohlakoana, Kholosa Biyana, Refiloe Jane, Thato Letsoso, Nompumelelo Nyandeni, Hildah Magaia, Linda Motlhalo, Thembi Kgatlana.
Strikers: Jermaine Seoposenwe, Melinda Kgadiete, Chantelle Esau, Noko Matlou.