JOHANNESBURG – South Afria women’s senior team coach Desiree Ellis is adamant that the exclusion of overseas-based players Janine van Wyk, Thembi Kgatlana and Linda Motlhalo from the squad that will face Lesotho in their 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers won’t have a negative effect on the proceedings at the Setsoto Stadium, Maseru, on June 6 and Bloemfontein on June 10.
The matches will be Banyana Banyana’s first and final qualifiers for the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations to be held in Ghana from November 17-December 1 after they had a bye in the first round due to a high ranking in CAF.
“I don’t think that excluding the overseas-based players will cause damage to the team’s chances of qualifying for the African showpiece,’’ said Ellis who was speaking at the team’s main sponsor Sasol’s new initiative “Limitless” in Sandton yesterday.
The campaign looks to assist upcoming future and current woman footballers especially those from less privileged backgrounds. “During last year’s (triumph in the) COSAFA tournament we didn’t have any overseas-based players. We took 10 new players with us to Zimbabwe and they raised their hands,’’ said Ellis.
Ellis says one of the reasons she didn’t call up overseas-based players Kgatlana and Motlhalo is because she wanted the two newbies of the National Women’s Soccer League outfit Houston Dash in the United States to properly settle at their new home.
“In addition we are also not trying to build a team but a squad so that when someone is not there, someone can step in and do the job.’’
Ellis has done it before (only considering locally-based players), and as a result she went on to win the Cosafa Cup late last year. However, far from dwelling in the past, Ellis has now set her sights on the next chapter - being the first female coach to take Banyana to the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year in France.
There will be no time for excuses or mistakes from now on.
“We would like to win it, but if we fall short we’d like to get into the top three positions (automatic World Cup qualification). Each and every player and technical member’s ultimate dream is to go to the World Cup. Hence it’s not negotiable to qualify; we just have to do it.”