“Just to think of the games there, the last Champions League was United and PSG, and now you are going to play on that field!” said Desiree Ellis. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Caster Semenya’s time spent with Banyana Banyana was most definitely inspirational for the players, but coach Desiree Ellis has noted another experience that could just take them over the line against China on Thursday night.

Olympic and world champion Semenya had lunch with the South African team on Wednesday in Paris, having won a 2 000m event in the suburb of Montreuil on Tuesday evening.

The players and team officials posed for selfies with the champion athlete, and took heart from her words too.

But another important visit could play a role in Banyana’s success tonight (9pm kickoff).

Ellis stated that the team were taken aback by the facilities at the Parc des Princes, where Paris Saint-Germain are based, and where the China clash will take place.

“Just to have gone to the stadium, where the likes of Neymar and Mbappe are in that dressing-room, the mirrors and 14 showers… It’s the best of the best.

“Just to think of the games there, the last Champions League was United and PSG, and now you are going to play on that field! That’s motivation enough,” the Banyana mentor said.

Ellis added that the team had great fun with Semenya, but it was all about producing on the field tonight.

“It was really a great moment, and you could see their eyes light up. She (Semenya) didn’t just pop in, but spent a few hours with us. She came with her bags, so we said she is joining us in camp. She had lunch with us too. She is like a beacon of hope for us – it is so inspiring, and she has shown us that you can do anything.

“With Germany beating Spain (1-0 on Wednesday), it gives us a big chance. The players know what to do, and we have been working on our finishing. The players will take responsibility, and hopefully all the work that has been done can come to fruition.

“There’s already pressure when you come into the national team, and the group has come through that – the will to fight for each other on the field, leave no stone unturned, and that has to come to the fore (against China). They know it’s do-or-die, and we have to go for the win.”


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