Banyana Banyana interim coach Desiree Ellis. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Banyana Banyana will have to readjust their thinking if they reckon their upcoming Cosafa Women’s Championship campaign in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe is going to be a walk in the park.

This is the view of interim coach, Desiree Ellis, who stated that her charges would do well to take lessons from Bafana Bafana’s recent failure to beat Cape Verde in two 2018 World Cup qualifying matches. The senior men’s team lost twice, 2-1 in either leg against a side who are still 17 places below them on the Caf rankings.

But having won this championship three times before, and currently been pitted in what is regarded as an easy group with Botswana, Zambia and Lesotho, Ellis reckons treating every match as if it were a final would see them winning this year’s championship.

“We’ll be naive going to this tournament without any intention of wanting to win it,” Ellis said. “We must remember what happened to Bafana. That should be a lesson for us that there isn’t such a thing as a small team, when it comes to playing in competitive matches.

“Not so long ago,” Ellis added. “I spoke to the players and asked them, ‘Whose got a Cosafa medal’? There were only three players who raised their hands. A majority of this current group do not have that championship medal and I told them that it was up to them to go all the way out in an attempt to win it (for themselves), too. This is now their chance.”

Banyana jetted off to Zimbabwe on Monday, and will play their first match of the tournament this Thursday against Botswana. The coach stated that, though her side didn’t participate in competitive matches other than a few training camps they’ve held in the past eight months, she was confident her side was going to come out with decent results in this tournament.

“We have footage of all the teams and we have studied them thoroughly,” Ellis said. “We play Botswana in our first match and know that they’ve played a friendly match against Bloemfontein Celtic in preparation for this championship. And so yes, we are well aware what we are up against. We are not going to take any of our opponents lightly.

“What has helped us for this championship is that we gave our players a training programme to follow after every training camp we held with them during the course of this past eight months,” Ellis added.

“And that helps us because (their respective performances) in training we’ve held with them, suggests they’ve followed that programme really well. Another plus for us is we’ve got about six players who just returned from the World Student Games. We have no doubt in our minds the experience which they’ve gained there, will benefit us in this campaign and going forward.”

The Star

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