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South Africa suffer Andile Dlamini and Biyana Kholosa blow ahead of Nigeria clash

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By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde

Two key players, goalkeeper Andile Dlamini and Biyana Kholosa, have been sidelined from South Africa’s senior women’s national team ahead of their clash with Nigeria in the final round of the Paris 2024 Olympics Qualifiers.

Dlamini withdrew from the squad due to medical reasons, leaving Banyana Banyana with a reshuffled lineup for the upcoming matches.

Despite the setback, head coach Desiree Ellis remains optimistic, emphasizing the depth of her squad.

“We are without Andile Dlamini who has withdrawn for medical reasons. We have a group of players that are always ready to step up whenever there is a player missing, so this will not affect the preparations much. We look at this and see an opportunity for another player to raise their hands,” said Ellis.

Additionally, the absence of Kholosa Biyana and Wendy Shongwe poses challenges, but the return of experienced players such as Fifi, Mbane, Gamede, and Holweni boosts the team’s morale.

Ellis highlighted the importance of their experience, especially in facing the passionate Nigerian fans.

“Experience in this essence is going to help in this situation as it might be hostile as we know how passionate the fans of Nigeria are and they will be screaming for their team. We need that experience to get over this hurdle,” Ellis added.

The first leg of the qualifier will be held at the MKO Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on April 5, followed by the return leg at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on April 9.

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The winner over two legs secures one of Africa’s two tickets to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, with Zambia and Morocco vying for the other ticket on the same dates.

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