Banyana's eyes on the World Cup ahead of Awcon, says Ellis

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As Banyana put in the final preparations for the start of the Africa Women Cup of Nations head coach Desiree Ellis says the main priority for her side is World Cup qualification.

“Our eyes are on the world cup. It’s the world cup first and then everything else,” Ellis told KickOff.

“As a coach, you want to win every competition you participate in and we believe we can. When we get that semi-final spot then we can focus on going on to win it, but for us now the priority is qualifying for the World Cup."

A semi-final finish in the 2022 Awcon would automatically earn Banyana and the other finalist a ticket to next year’s Women’s World Cup to be played in Australia and New Zealand.

Scroll through the gallery to see South Africa's all-time leading goalscorers in World Cup qualifying

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After the first camp in Johannesburg, Banyana left the country and landed in Morocco on Wednesday to begin their preparations for the continental showpiece.

Ellis took along with her a strong 23-member squad with a mixture of youth and experience. Janine van Wyk, Noko Matlou and Refiloe Jane are some of the more experienced players on the squad while 19-year-old Nthabiseng Majiya and 21-year-olds Sibulele Holweni and Noxolo Cesane are the youngest players in the squad.

READ: Banyana seals ticket to AWCON

There is also the return of striker Jermaine Seoposenwe after a two-year absence from the green and gold while striker Gabriela Salgado was withdrawn from the preliminary squad to injury.

Banyana will open their campaign against 11-time winners and defending champions Nigeria on Monday, 4 July before taking on Burundi on 7 July. The last match of the group stages will be against Botswana on 10 July before the competition proceeds to the final knockout rounds.

Banyana will also have even more motivation to win the Awcon after SAFA announced a R9.2 million payout for the squad on the condition that they bring the trophy, with each player set to walk away with R400 000.

Full Banyana Banyana Awcon squad:

Goalkeepers: Andile Dlamini, Kaylin Swart, Regirl Ngobeni

Defenders: Karabo Dhlamni, Lebohang Ramalepe, Bambanani Mbane, Bongeka Gumede, Noko Matlou

Midfielders: Refiloe Jane, Nomvula Kgoale, Linda Mothlalo, Thaela Smit, Khoilosa Biyana, Amogelang Motau, Robyn Moodaly, Sibulele Holweni

Forwards: Jermaine Seoposenwe, Melinda Kgadeiete, Noxolo Cesane, Nthabiseng Majila, Thembi Kgatlana, Hilda Magaia

Standby: Kebotseng Moletsane, Tiisetso Makhubela, Thubelihle Shamase