JOHANNESBURG – Having been overpowered by the prowess of world beaters Spain, China and Germany and sent home after the group stage of the Fifa Women’s World Cup, Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis has backed some of her players to have done enough on the biggest stage to land lucrative deals abroad.
Ranked a lowly 49th in the world in a group where there was Germany, Spain and China, who are second, 13th and 16th respectively, Banyana wore the cap of the underdogs and odds were against them to make the last 16.
The wheels came off as they finished bottom and pointless in Group B after the third round of matches. But then again, this was also a stage for players to go out there and raise their hands in pursuit of bagging contracts abroad.
Ellis is hoping her local troops will follow in the footstep of the reigning Queen of African Football Thembi Kgatlana who’s plying her trade with Chinese outfit Beijing BG Phoenix FC
“I think that players need to play at the highest-level week-in-and-out,” Ellis stated. “That’s the only way that we are going to catch up. You can see with the likes of Thembi, she’s come here and showed that she’s playing in the top league (in the Chinese Super League) because whenever she’s on the ball, the crowd would go wild because they know that something is going to happen.
Sometimes it doesn’t happen but whenever she’s there, something is likely to happen. In Africa and the world at large, everybody knows of Thembi by now.”
Banyana may have bowed out of the World Cup in the group stage but Ellis believes they gave a good account of themselves against world beaters.
Considering the South Africans began their global showpiece with a minimal source of motivation having been winless in their preparation matches this year, their chances of pulling off the improbable by making the knockout stages were nullified from the outset.
In their opener against Spain, the South Africans, however, showed no signs of stage fright - taking a surprised lead into the break through a strike from Golden Girl Kgatlana. However, a lapse of concentration at the back and through help from the controversial Video Assistant Referee ensured that Spain won the match by 3-1.
Enter China in the second match. Banyana fought the good fight but the Asians capitalised on a slender chance to snatch all three points. Rooted at the bottom in Group B, their chances of making the last 16 were hanging by a thread, especially with their next assignment being against second ranked Germany.
The two-time world champions showed no remorse on Monday night, hammering the South Africans 4-0 to send them home just after the first round.
“This team doesn’t know any fear,” Ellis said. “No matter who they face, they always believe it’s 11 v 11.It doesn’t matter what the score-line is, they always continue playing and just giving it their all. And that’s all you can ask.
They can hold their heads high, and yes, we might have not got the result that we wanted but I think that the people back at home can be proud of the effort. Whether you get the result or not, all you can ask for is commitment, effort and brand of football that you want to show.”
The South Africans are expected land back home from their maiden global showpiece at OR Tambo International Airport at 11am this morning.@Mihlalibaleka