Banyana coach Desriee Ellis unfazed as goalkeeper retires
Roxanne Barker bids farewell as a clutch of replacements are poised for a place
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis is not too concerned by the retirement of experienced goalkeeper Roxanne Barker a few months before the Fifa Women’s World Cup because the country has a bright future in that department.
Barker‚ who featured at the last two Olympic Games for SA‚ has lost her place between the poles in recent times to Kaylin Swart and Andile Dlamini, who started a game each during the recent international friendlies against Netherlands and Sweden.
Both moved ahead of Barker in the pecking order‚ which saw the 27-year-old decide to call time on her career earlier this week. However, Ellis says the goalie position is well covered.
“We’ve also brought in Jessica Williams from the under-20 squad and we also have Mapaseka Mpuru from the under-20s available‚” Ellis said.
“So you have goalkeepers [Swart and Dlamini] who are challenging each other which is always good, and then two young ones coming through as well. Under-17 goalkeepers have been to the World Cup as well, and that is experience you can’t buy.”
Barker gave thanks to her coaches for a career that saw her play college soccer in the US and also have a spell in Iceland and the Netherlands.
“With a light and happy heart I want to announce my retirement from international football‚” she wrote on her Instagram account.
“It’s been an amazing ride‚ also sometimes a painful one‚ but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. Sometimes you have to know when a chapter of your life is closing and something new‚ fresh and exciting is starting to grow.
“I want to say thank you to all the coaches who believed in me and made me into the player that I am. I will be the first to admit that I am not always the easiest player to control but I want to say that from the bottom of my heart thank you for investing your time and effort in me‚ I appreciate it.”
Banyana are next in action in the Cyprus Cup, where they face Finland (February 27)‚ North Korea (March 1) and Czech Republic (March 4) in more vital preparation for the World Cup.