JOHANNESBURG – Desiree Ellis is all about changing perceptions, and the Banyana Banyana head coach is adamant: she will never please everyone all of the time and won’t allow her struggles get in the way of her success.
Last year Ellis, 55, guided Banyana to the Women’s Cosafa Cup title in Zimbabwe.
And last weekend, she did it again by successfully defending their crown.
Her troops overcame a tough Cameroon side to win 2-1 in the final at the Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
By winning last weekend, South Africa claimed their 5th title in the tournament. Ellis’s team also went unbeaten in the tournament, winning all five of their matches against challenging opposition.
While female football in the country still have a long way to go before they can match the support that the male national team gets, Ellis says she is proud of the numbers that followed Banyana’s journey in the Cosafa Cup.
“We are much loved in South Africa. The stadiums were packed in Port Elizabeth and that shows the game is growing but there’s always room for improvement.”
Ellis said her team went into the Cosafa Cup tournament with the mindset of defending their crown.
“We just wanted to win it again.”
Since taking the helm from Vera Pauw, Ellis has instilled a winning mentality in the Banyana camp.
She says every member of the team has played an important part in their journey.
“It’s a collective effort by all involved. This includes the assistant coach, the goalkeeping coach,the performance analyst, the kit manager, the security, the bus driver, the medical team and the players. It’s a real team effort.”
Ellis says the belief within the team is the main reason they have taken such large strides in the last two years.
“The semi-final in 2017 really prepared us mentally for our future games and the final against Cameroon was another yardstick to measure ourselves against.”
Now, she says, it is crucial that the team take a step further to qualify for next year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup in France.
“It’s not negotiable. We have to qualify for the World Cup. We owe it to the SA Football Association (Safa) and Sasol for their continued support.
“It’s going to take a lot more effort to achieve our World Cup goal.”
Ellis doesn’t have much time to bask in her Cosafa Cup glory. She must immediately turn her attention to a friendly against Chile next month.
“They have qualified for the World Cup and will play the runner-up of the African Olympic final qualifying match for a place at the 2020 Olympics.
“They have a different style of play and will challenge us to be on top of our game. It will also help with the growth and prepare us for future games as the next game prepares you for the next and so on,” she said.@SamNaik01